Friday Girl TV recently had the pleasure of attending The Mike Schreiber ‘True Hip Hop’ Photo exhibition at the Hagdorn Foundation Gallery. An eclectic mix of hip hop enthusiasts, artists, fans and supporters gathered at the Hagedorn Foundation Gallery to celebrate the opening of the photographic exhibition from Schreiber’s recently published work, ’True Hip Hop’. During the event, Schreiber shared insights and perspectives of photographing hip hop artists while participating in a panel discussion moderated by Atlanta visual artist and cultural critic Fahamu Pecou. Featured panelists included photographer Mike Schreiber, Music Editor & Critic for Creative Loafing Atlanta, Rodney Carmichael & Emmy award-winning Morehouse professor and Hip Hop Fellow to W.E.B Dubois Institute and Harvard University, Dr. Joycelyn Wilson. We spoke with Dr. Joycelyn Wilson about women and hip-hop, the music’s future and the perception of hip-hop outside of the African American community.
FG: As a professor and scholar you are considered one of the leading female advocates of hip-hop and hip-hop culture in the South. Why is it so important to you that you educate people about hip-hop culture?
DJW: Hip Hop is one of the most creative vehicles for developing the leadership capacities of young people. Popular culture in general and hip-hop culture specifically. The story of hip-hop is the story of the sample. It is a way to access the past, to understand the present, in preparation for the future. It is the perfect blend of aesthetics and experience. And it is the mix of these that I believe contributes the most to a person’s development.
FG: Hip-Hop has been said to promote violence and misogyny, do you get a lot of flak from women about being a lover and advocate for hip-hop and what is your perspective on this claim being that you are a women who also happens to be a lover of hip-hop?
DJW: I don’t get a lot of flack as much as I get asked this very question all the time. It’s like “how can you love hip-hop Dr. Joyce when hip-hop hates women and wants to kill everyone.” This is why it’s important to educate youth on this because rap music – albeit only one part of a bigger cultural whole – is a genre of music that they listen to frequently. Some rap music promotes these negative and destructive ideas, but most of it doesn’t. The problem is you have to go to alternative media to listen to it. On the other hand, to practice hip-hop doesn’t mean you have to like rap music. Rapping is just one element. The practice of hip-hop is a lifestyle that comes from a particular mindset. It’s a mindset based on knowing who you are and why you’re here; staying in that lane to make the world a better place; and maintaining a competitive swag while doing what God has you here to do. That’s the consciousness of hip-hop culture. It has little to do with rap music.
FG: How do you think books like True Hip-Hop effect the overall perception of hip-hop culture outside of the African-American community?
DJW: It’s an example of what I just said above. “True Hip-Hop” is a collection of photos that represent a particular photographer’s work. It gives voice to what Schreider was called to do in this world. It’s his contribution. He, like all of us in the business of creating imagery, has to be careful with this type of visual power because he is dealing with images – images of people, and in this case images of African American men in particular. But he knows he is accountable to not only himself, but also the members of the culture when presenting something like this. That’s what I like about the presentation of the material. These are not manufactured images. They are images the rappers wanted to portray. So the question then becomes “What are my thoughts about the ways in which rappers see themselves and the overall perception of these images outside of the African American community?” I’ll answer this one in my next interview with you all (smile).
FG: Where do you see hip-hop culture heading in the next 5 years?
DJW: The next 5 years will be a documentation of the last 5 years; all rappers will be singers; and Jay-Z will be campaigning for President of the United States under the slogan “Can’t Knock the Hustle” (smile).
FG: What projects to you have coming up and where can people get in contact with you/find more information on you?
DJW: Right now I am preparing to move to Boston/Cambridge to begin a fellowship at the Hip-hop Archives at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University. I’m currently working on my first book that is based on the “30 Days of… Daily Dose of Realness Series” that I started in February. It can be found at www.dailydoseofrealness.com. My team is working hard to get the drjoyce site off the ground, and I’m looking forward to publishing the curriculum guide for The HipHop2020 Curriculum Project. Please go to www.hiphop2020.org to subscribe to our Daily Dose of Realness list. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. I can be followed @drjoyce1107 or @theleadnetwork, and I’m on Facebook under Joycelyn Wilson. Please join our FB Fan Page: The HipHop2020 Curriculum Project.
Mike Schreiber’s ‘True Hip Hop’ photo exhibition will run from July 9 through August 27, 2011 at the Hagedorn Foundation Gallery. This special event is presented as part of the 23rd annual National Black Arts Festival. For more information or to view the installation, visit www.hfgallery.com.