All they are saying is give hip-hop a chance

I am not a big hip-hop fan. Although I have the soundtrack to Hamilton on heavy rotation in my car (what’s cooler than high school kids now knowing the backstory of our forefathers?), I would be hard pressed to tell you another hip-hop song or artist that I really like.

But last fall I interviewed two local hip-hop impresarios for my blog caffeineclarityPacal “DJ Pain 1” Bayley and Mark “ShaH” Evans—and was struck by how in tune they both were to the power of hip-hop, especially among young people of color. Both men work in hip-hop professionally and they’ve also dedicated quite a bit of their time to creating opportunities to bring it into the schools and the community through Urban Community Arts Network (UCan).

Mark “ShaH” Evans

Pacal “DJ Pain 1” Bailey

When I opened this week’s Wednesday CapTimes I was interested to see an article about the hip-hop—or, more accurately, non-hip-hop—scene in Madison and how recent research by Randy Stoecker, a UW-Madison sociology professor, indicates that this musical form doesn’t earn its reputation for attracting thugs and thuggish behavior (you might be interested to know that country music is more likely to generate police calls that result in police charges—who knew?).

I’ll leave it to you to read the article (or Prof. Stoecker’s complete research),  but challenge all of us to rethink our attitudes about this musical form. At a time when the issue of race continues—rightfully—to demand our attention, finding ways to provide kids with more access to the positive impact of music and art seems like something we can all get behind.

Want to experience UCan in action? Check out their upcoming free concerts.

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Vicky Franchino

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