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Hip-Hop Indepth

Hip-Hop Indepth

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Published by Hannah Wise
A look at the hip-hop scene in Lawrence, Kan., from musicians to academia.
Published in The University Daily Kansan, summer 2011
A look at the hip-hop scene in Lawrence, Kan., from musicians to academia.
Published in The University Daily Kansan, summer 2011

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Published by: Hannah Wise on Nov 20, 2013
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04/26/2015

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Almost all fireworks are illegal within the city limits, but holiday events will still allow you to celebrate in style
NEWS | 15
Celebrating with a bang
A sports roundup from the week, including recruiting and drafting news.
SPORTS | 22
Basketball, football, soccer, oh my!
THE UNIVERSITY DAILY KANSAN
UDK
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2011
 
WWW.KANSAN.COM
 
VOLUME 123, ISSUE 156
what you
Hip hop holds weight in the Heartland
 Forget 
HEARD
 
FEATURE 12
 
PAGE 12THE UNIVERSITY DAILY KANSAN
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2011
THE UNIVERSITY DAILY KANSAN
PAGE 13WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2011
n the 1985 guide to the mu-sic genre entitled “Fresh: Hip-Hop Don’t Stop,Harlem rapper and hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow wrote, “Maybe one day, when I’m old, people will finally real-ize that rap is here to stay.” More than a quarter century later, it’s safe to stay it stuck around. Far from the predominantly ethnic and economically-marginalized ur-ban centers hip-hop calls home, and farther from the violent streets in New York City and Los Angeles from which the genre burst onto the popu-lar stage, the promotion, study and performance of hip-hop is influencing an interesting mix of lives right here in the Heartland. Te music and the cultural phe-nomenon that surrounds it has come a long way since the South Bronx’s DJ Afrika Bambataa outlined the four pillars of hip-hop: Emceeing, DJing, break-dancing and graffiti writing. Te art moved from improvisa-tional performances at parties in New York neighborhood centers to break-dancing or “breaking” and “freestyle” battles on city blacktops and to the pains of disgruntled youth rapping “gangster” rhymes about deplorable urban-living conditions. It stood for ethical and moral trials almost annually, spending its thirty-year history defending usage of the words “ho,” “bitch” and other degrad-ing epithets while surviving criticisms for perpetuating a culture of violence, drugs and death in inner-cities. oday, the movement at its core is strongly African-American, but hip-hop creators and consumers are increasingly a blend of all races and backgrounds. Te genre has diffused globally and exponentially, becom-ing a major commercial force in fash-ion, dance and music, including in Lawrence, a small, largely Caucasian town. National acts have visited here for decades, playing sold-out shows at  venues such as the Granada, 1020 Massachusetts St. Te local scene, most prominent in the early 2000s when groups like Archetype and Soundsgood represented a strong hip-hop culture on and off campus, is get-ting stronger. All the while, hip-hop in the Heart-land is popping up in unsuspecting places.
“Maybe one day, when I’m old, people will finally realize that hip-hop is here to stay,”
— Kurtis Blow 
Same beat, different dance
Hip-hop holds weight in the Heartland 
BY CALVIN MCCONNELL
editor@kansan.com 
Bryan O’Brien throws his lanky arms in the air, cocks his head toward the ceiling and releases a rhythmic cadence from his chest. Standing behind the microphone at the Mirth Café, 745 New Hamp-shire St., downtown on a Friday night, he couldn’t have imagined those Vanilla Ice verses he memo-rized in elementary school in North Dakota would lead to this.  James Baker bobs his head to a jazz-infused beat as he and a sweaty, eclectic audience in downtown Lawrence get a full serving of Midwestern hip-hop. A white male from a suburban background, he’s smack in the middle of the music’s target au-dience, but the 22-year-old self-proclaimed “hipster” promoted tonight’s concert and has a vested interest in its success. Chelsea Ybarra’s feet slide across the Robinson Dance Stu-dio floor, her limbs are flowing and her step is in-sync — she’s hip-hop and she’s “on” tonight. Her skin is painted green as she performs an interpretative dance to Kid Cudi’s “Embrace the Mar-tian,” living a dream that’s liter-ally and conceptually far from her hometown of Ulysess. Nicole Hodges Persley asks her students how homosexuality shows up in hip-hop culture. Can they hear feminism or peaceful expressions of “blackness” in the music once known for misogyny and rape culture? Educated in Los Angeles before directing pro-grams at the Hip Hop Archives at Harvard, Hodges Persley has brought the music’s academic study to stereotypically white, conservative Kansas.
Next week:
The Poet 
Week 3:
The Promoter 
Week 4:
The Dancer 
Today:
The Professor 
 I 
FOUR-PART SERIES
 
The Promoter 
BY CALVIN MCCONNELL
editor@kansan.com 
PAGE 12THE UNIVERSITY DAILY KANSAN
WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 2011
THE UNIVERSITY DAILY KANSAN
PAGE 13WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 2011
ro-moter James Baker stands close to the side o the stage at the Jackpot Music Hall, 933 Massachusetts St. He watches as another local hip-hop show he organized unolds in ront o him — speakers shake, emcees sound off wordplay, and the crowd moves to the rhythm. Approach, Lawrence hip-hop guru and owner o Datura Records, walks by and pokes Baker’s under-belly, a un gesture o “good job, glad you got us all together again.” Baker nods naturally, like he’s been doing this or years. But Baker, the bearded, suburban kid, a senior rom Dallas, had a more unexpected introduction to hip-hop. He didn’t listen to “gangster rap” in his teens. In act, it wasn’t until Bak-er’s sophomore year o college when he joined his predestined market classification. Atmosphere, the Minneapolis duo credited with pioneering the Mid-western independent hip-hop that grabbed attention the past decade, was playing a show at Te Granada, 1020 Massachusetts St. “I skipped writing a paper until 4 in the morning,” he said. Instead, Baker attended the concert, which ran rom 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., and he was astonished at its level o constant in-tensity. “I remember I got back to my apartment and said, ‘Tat was like six hours o entertainment, what’s up with that?’” He’d connected with the music briefly in high school, being drawn to the politicized content o em-cees like Immortal echnique and Black Tought, the latter rom the Philadelphia-based group Te Roots. Te live experience was even better, though. “I said, ‘wow’, something’s here. Something is here,” Baker said. He went to more shows and re-searched the art, its proselytizers, critics and creators. Overall, he liked what he saw and heard. Ten, almost completely bypass-ing the stage o hip-hop “an,” Baker started an unusual journey into the business o promoting local hip-hop. “My first impression o James was that he was a good kid who loved music and wanted to learn more — not just about the music, but more about the culture, atmosphere, and business around it,” Steddy P, a Kan-sas City hip-hop artist and ounder o local music label Indyground En-tertainment, explained. Te two connected at one o Sted-dy P’s concerts in Lawrence when Baker offered to hand out flyers or upcoming shows. At the time, Baker was also a D.J. at the University’s radio station, KJHK. He brought his newound in-terest on the airwaves and began to promote local artists like Louis Ripp, atilla, Greg Enemy, Approach and Stikfiga—all rom Kansas City, Law-rence or opeka. Fast orward just a ew months and today you’ll find Baker — a once hip-hop skeptic, then halway an, then small-time volunteer, then ra-dio promoter—taking part in Indy-ground business decisions, drafing and securing contracts and booking tours or artists. “I ound a passion in it. Maybe not making it, or producing music or anything like that, but just being in- volved in a community that is really accepting,” Baker said, looking back at his rapid progression through the local hip-hop scene. “You think o hip-hop as gang-sters and people who want to beat each other up. But all these dudes are riends. Tey’re the nicest dudes that you’ll ever meet—nicer than bands.” om Johnson, KJHK station man-ager, said Baker’s personality and character played a part in his swifimmersion into promoting and or-ganizing or both Indyground and KJHK Live Events. “He works hard and earns respect one person at a time,” Johnson said. “No matter what he’s doing, he real-izes he represents the station as well as his own values, and he definitely knows that memories are long in Lawrence.” Baker sees it a career opportunity, even i it’s not what his parents had in mind. He’s proud to say that his work is part o a new school o hip-hop business that is driven by Midwest-ern promoters and label executives his same youthul age. “It’s a cool business to be in, be-cause it’s definitely strategic and a lot like politics,” Baker said, empha-sizing the valuable entrepreneurial skills he’s learned already in his short stint with Indyground Entertain-ment, Steddy P’s Kansas City-based record label. He said he offers a resh perspec-tive to artists, entrepreneurs and en-tertainers that have been in the busi-ness or years. “I did not grow up on hip-hop. All my riends are hipsters, and I’m kind o a hipster,” Baker said. “I bring a breath o resh air.”
“I found a passion in it. Maybe not making it, or producing music or anything like that, but just being involved in a community that is really accepting.”
— James Baker 
FOUR-PART SERIES
 
Editor’s note:
This article is the second of a four-part series offering a small sample of hip-hop’s story in the Heartland. The Kansan’s next three issues will feature profiles of James Baker, Chelsea Ybarra and Bryan O’Brien.— Photos by Travis Young/KANSAN 
A target listener aims at his own industry bullseye 
In-depth writer Calvin McConnell profiled Nicole Hodges Persley, assistant professor of theater. The article examines the intersection of hip-hop, per-formance art and academia in her work at the University. Catch up with the series online at Kansan.com. James Baker bobs his head to a jazz-infused beat as he and a sweaty, eclectic audience in downtown Lawrence get a full serving of Midwestern hip-hop. A white male from a suburban background, he’s smack in the middle of the music’s target audience, but the 22-year-old self-proclaimed “hipster” promoted tonight’s concert and has a vested interest in its success.
Last week This week 

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