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‘The sound of the culture’: Conference to talk hip-hop

Courtesy of Keith Williams

Hip-hop is just a music genre for many, but a complete culture for some. Hip-hop has its own language, clothing, relationships and entrepreneurship.

Professors, artists and musicians are coming to Ohio State from across the country to teach the community about hip-hop.

The Hip-Hop Literacies Conference will take place today from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in various buildings on OSU’s campus, including The William Saxbe Law Auditorium, Ramseyer Hall, Arps Hall and Campbell Hall.

Elaine “Dr. E” Richardson, professor of literacy studies and conference organizer, said the conference will focus on the culture of hip-hop, including workshops, panels, speakers and a concert.

“I wanted to introduce to the campus community more formally about hip-hop scholarship,” she said.

Richardson said she wanted to bring in the greater community that teaches how to use hip-hop in various ways, like peace studies and women’s empowerment, to the conference.

“Young people can really have an understanding about hip-hop as a business and also art,” she said.

Keith “Speak” Williams is a public speaker, writer and performing artist who will be holding the “Hip-Hop in the Classroom for Teachers” workshop today in Ramseyer Hall at 6 p.m.

Williams has worked with Richardson previously, participating in similar workshops with the Wexner Center for the Arts.

“A lot of people sometimes look at hip-hop as just a musical genre, and they don’t really understand that the music is just the sound to the culture,” he said. “You have to understand the elements that go with it.”

Williams said the workshop is geared toward providing teachers, educators and youth service providers with a better understanding of the culture of their students.

He said he looks to help teachers break down cultural barriers between students.

“Hip-hop is a myriad of things,” Williams said. “It’s an evolving culture.”

Williams said he hopes students that attend the conference gain a broader perspective of hip-hop, like visiting a different culture.

“If you go to another country … after spending more time there, talking to the people, really getting an internal perspective about how this all came together, you develop a different appreciation,” he said.

The hip-hop culture is interdependent with the hip-hop industry though the two are separate entities, Williams said.

Williams will also host and perform at the concert Friday night, concluding the conference at 7 p.m. in Campbell Hall.

Williams described his music as reversing the trend of negative images and partying in hip-hop.

He’s been rapping for 15 years and said with kids of his own, he now looks to create music from a different background.

“Listening to Gucci Mane just doesn’t fit my lifestyle,” he said.

Because rapper Gucci Mane’s music about partying isn’t a suitable soundtrack for fixing his kids breakfast, Williams understands the need for various hip-hop styles.

He said he focuses on dreams and journeys in his upcoming online album, “Passport.”

He said a lot of people complain about hip-hop music and the negativity it tends to promote.

“Unless a lot of people demand something different, there won’t be anything different,” Williams said.

Sonia Patankar, a fifth-year in pharmaceutical science, said she first heard about the conference from her friend Ebony Jeanette, Richardson’s daughter and the publicist for the event.

“Mostly I’m interested in just seeing different perspective in hip-hop. I think the media portrays it in a certain way, but there’s more to it than that,” she said.

Kaila Lee, a second-year in history of art, said she heard about The Hip-Hop Literacies Conference through the Facebook event.

Lee said she’s seen documentaries about the hip-hop industries and the culture surrounding it.

“(Hip-hop is) way different from my life. … It’s nice to learn about something else,” she said.

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