Freestyle: Curators of Hip Hop
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / firstname.lastname@example.org
Hip hop music, film and talk-story come together in Honolulu next week with a “Future of Hip Hop” summit beginning on Monday, April 28.
FUTURE OF HIP HOP SUMMIT
» Where: University of Hawaii-Manoa; Crossroads at Hawaiian Brian’s; Nextdoor
Filmmaker Jermaine “Mainframe” Fletcher is the originator of the idea, which has its roots in Honolulu. Fletcher grew up in Virginia loving East Coast hip hop, attended college in Florida and found himself working in Hawaii in 2009. For the next 3 1/2 years, he clued into the “thriving” Hawaii hip hop scene and became interested in its wide-ranging aspects.
While here, Fletcher and co-founders Jimmie Thomas and Asia Horne hatched the idea of a “Curators of Hip Hop” documentary film series, following independent hip hop artists as they sought a place in the culture. He considers Curators of Hip Hop to be a “movement,” he said, gathering those who respect the art form together to collectively shape its future.
The summit is made up of mostly free events, including the Hawaii premiere of “The Curators Volume One — A Story of Independence,” which follows five emcees including Prie, spanning from Hawaii to New York.
Grammy-nominated jazz/soul/hip-hop artist Carolyn Malachi, who was recently selected to be a part of the U.S.-funded American Music Abroad program, headlines the opening concert for the summit on Monday, April 28. (See a video of her “Beautiful Dreamer” below.)
Hip hop workshops are offered 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 29 and Wednesday, April 30 at the Queen Liliuokalani Center for Student Services at UH-Manoa, offering a chance to share ideas with the local and national artists. On April 29, Fletcher and COHH co-founder/fellow filmmaker Jimmie Thomas will talk story about “independence in art and business.” The UH Ethnic Studies department is co-presenting the summit.
Now living in New York, where he freelances as a video-maker, Fletcher and Thomas have promoted a series of “Curators”-related events on the East and West Coasts and in Hawaii, including film screenings, concerts and discussions. But this summit is unique to Honolulu.
“This will be new to a lot of us,” he said, as far as a first full look at the film he’s created, and a chance to participate in talk about hip hop’s future.
Honolulu rapper Prie caught Fletcher’s attention from the beginning, as a talented artist who also represents hip hop’s increasingly global attraction. (Read more about the African-American, German, Samoan and Fijian rapper here.) The rapper is a central part of the film “Curators of Hip Hop.”
“I felt his sound — he could relate to people back home on a national and international level, on a global scale,” Fletcher said. “He was very consistent with his music; he was dedicated, and I could relate to that.”
Prie headlines the summit’s closing concert, along with New York hip hop artist Matt Reeves, who’ll perform at both the opening and closing events.
The ultimate goal, Fletcher says, is to nurture “cultural ambassadors” for hip hop worldwide, continuing the film series: “to continue to find new artists, new sounds and to do it in a way that’s international. … For us, the artists are the educators.”
“Hip hop is powerful,” says Fletcher in a Youtube video previewing his film, “The Curators Volume 1: A Story of Independence.” (Watch it below.) “Being a curator just means you recognize how big the movement is.”