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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

City's hip-hop hospitality focus of forum

Madison bar owners', police's and city officials' receptions of hip-hop acts came under fire at a forum hosted Friday in the Red Gym as part of the Hip Hop As A Movement conference. 




Organizers billed the forum in the events schedule as an attempt to \open the lines of communication among those of us who feel targeted, scrutinizing the level of difficulty to have hip hop downtown."" That issue garnered attention last month following a late-night shooting at Stillwaters, 250 State St.  




The shooting occurred during a hip-hop open-mic night at the bar. It led management to discontinue any further hip-hop nights, dealing a blow to the already limited availability of hip-hop acts downtown.  




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The Hip Hop in Madison Forum panelists and audience members approached several topics, including how to get access to more venues and how they could change city officials' perceptions of hip hop as being violent.  




""[The police] blow it way out of proportion,"" said panelist Brody Rose, founder and creator of ""They don't blame the individuals who actually caused the problem; they blame the whole culture, the whole music."" 




One solution addressed by the panelists was to become more political. Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, the city's representative on the panel, encouraged this idea. Verveer said the hip hop supporters should communicate their concerns to Mayor-elect Dave Cieslewicz, who will soon appoint four new members to the Alcohol License Review Committee. Verveer said many of the possible Hip Hop venues would not want to risk their licenses by allowing shows that city officials consider violent. 




Verveer also said he thought other officials should have come to the forum.  




""Hip Hop is not something they should be scared of and reject out of hand,"" he said. 




Rob DZ, an artist affiliated with Regime Records who facilitated the panel's discussion, said it was the artists' responsibility to change these misconceptions. 




""We're people, and we have a voice,"" he said. 




Although the panelists addressed solutions to their problems in Madison, as well as made plans to become more organized and to take action, Rob DZ said he felt a lot of the underlying issues were not discussed. Despite this critique, he said the panel set a precedent for the movement.  




Rob DZ also said the conference itself has helped Hip Hop become more well received in Madison.  




""It might not have gotten bigger, but it's getting better,"" he said.

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