Quantcast The AntFarm Affiliates blog [has moved]: March 2007
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Thursday, March 15, 2007

More press from the Hip Hop Summit at Westhill High

From The Advocate , Staff Writer

STAMFORD - Aspiring young MCs, DJs and rappers got a behind-the-scenes glimpse yesterday of what it takes to get on stage, spit rhymes and get the crowd pumped.

Underground rappers, producers and artists from across the state gathered at the first Hip Hop Summit yesterday to teach young people about performance, technique and skill.

The all-day event was sponsored by Westhill High School and hosted by Ant Farm Affiliates, an association of more than a dozen Connecticut hip-hop artists and performers.

Their message was one of empowerment.

"There's nothing wrong with being nerdy and being critical," said Queen Godis to a handful of students following a performance. "We have to rely on our minds, because they are underused as it is."

Godis, a singer and spoken-word performer, and singer Kendall Johnson-Smith, both from Brooklyn, N.Y., kicked off the summit with a series of songs and poetry from Godis' recent album "Power U!"

Godis said her message and the album are about the struggles and joy of womanhood. She said women should be "unafraid to be who they are without fear or resignation."

Music videos featuring scantily clad women or sexually explicit lyrics send conflicting messages about a woman's place in society, she said.

"In the midst of mixed media images, there's a lot of disconnect as to what it means to be a woman," she said.

Westhill High senior Deidre Knight, 17, said she appreciates Godis' message.

"When I listen to a lot of rap, it's like females really can't get anywhere. All you can do is look good and be in a video," said Deidre, an aspiring rapper. "Even a lot of female artists are degrading themselves. We need more artists like (Godis). She's good, and that inspires me."

The summit featured a series of workshops about gaining exposure through independent media, stage presence and breathing techniques. Leaders also spoke about turning "tagging" (spray-painting a symbol or name) and graffiti into a graphic design career. Participants had the chance to showcase their own demo CDs and receive a critique from Ant Farm Affiliates.

The event ended with a concert featuring the artists.

Westhill English teachers David Wooley and Joe Celcis, who also are Ant Farm performers, said the goal of the summit was to introduce young people to another side of hip hop, a side less commercial and more intellectual.

Wooley said he occasionally will interject lyrics into lessons to get students hooked on expanding their vocabulary and to improve their interest in reading.

"I think that we have a lot of kids who are either artists or intrigued by the music and the culture, and they don't necessarily think it's a way they can express themselves and be successful academically," Wooley said.

The artists with Ant Farm Affiliates have years of experience performing individually and together across the country, and they said they have knowledge and advice to share with younger people who are up and coming.

"There's a real subculture that most people don't know about," said Celcis, who goes by the stage name Nemesis Alpha when he's not teaching "Romeo and Juliet" to high school kids. "For every thug rapper, there's three or four rappers that have a real message and keep it real."

Sixteen-year-old Brett Clarke came to the summit hoping to hone his DJ skills. Brett, a Westhill High junior, said his hobby of spinning records has landed him gigs at sweet-sixteen celebrations and at parties. The enthusiasm of the crowd as they dance and sing along when he works his turntables gives him a rush, Brett said.

But the role of the DJ has been lost today, he said.

"You almost get into somewhat of a zone. It's kind of cliche, but you don't really hear the music, you feel it. It's a lost art," Brett said. "Now at school dances, you'll see someone getting paid to sit behind a computer and press play."

The summit was advertised and open to the public, but only about a dozen participants attended yesterday afternoon. Nonetheless, the artists said they felt encouraged by the youths' reaction.

"I've seen nothing but smiles, claps," said Manny Arias, an MC from Waterbury who goes by the stage name Rocone. "Everyone looks like they're enjoying themselves."

Copyright © 2007, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

A beautiful thing!

so I just checked out the CNN vid that Sketch posted and it always leaves me shaking my head to see the way that the mainstream media looks down it's nose at Hip Hop. It's frustating to see the way that corporate conglomerates like Clear Channel and Infinity Broadcasting can dominate the airwaves and dictate what urban music is forced down our throats.

It's funny 'cause hip hop radio didn't go top 40 format (in other words, playing the same 30-40 joints in heavy rotation) until the mid-90s. Honestly, there wasn't really much mainstream hip hop radio exposure until that point. If you wanted to hear hip hop, you had to search for it. You knew which DJs at which stations played it and when they played it (usually late at night). Other than that you could listen to urban radio and wait hours to hear a hip hop song...

However, it bumped in the streets HARD!!! Maybe, it's just too easy these days, so we listen to what we're told to listen to and don't think too much of it. Is hip hop poison? HELL NO!

For me, hip hop is salvation. And there's a lot of great hip hop right beneath the surface of the mainstream. I mean, damn, Ghostface dropped TWO classics last year- but hardly anybody noticed.

So that gets me to this. If you read the Snare post, you know that AFA rocked a whole day of workshops and performances at Westhill High School. On the real, attendance was kinda disappointing, but the kids that were there- they are CHANGED!!! They had never heard hip hop like that, at least in a current context and it rocked their worlds. Right now, they are telling their peoples, they are putting together a petition to the Principal to bring the show back for an encore and to provide easier access to the show for more of the students. They are putting in the EFFORT. They see VALUE in the experience that they had.

So as corporate hip hop is busy cannibalizing itself, closing the doors on itself and refusing to take chances because declining record sales are leaving A&Rs too shook to try something new, I'm smiling, because there's a small army of dedicated kids who see that maybe there's more to hip hop than what Power 105 tells them or what CNN is holding up to public ridicule and they are willing to stand up and rep for that.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Westhill Hip-Hop Summit

Yesterdays Summit at Westhill High School was fantastic.
Queen GodIs was amazing.
Everyones performances were super dope. The kids went ape shit for Spaz, and Sketch was just zonin'...best set from him I've seen so far. (and he's always dope)

Breez Evahflowin did his damn thing. The camera, freestyle about the crowd thing...bananas.
Quest, Expertiz, Workforce, Phenetiks, Cee Reed, and d_Cyphernauts all rocked something serious.

Two students had a chance to come up and rock, one of which was Rakim's son & Ivory Thompson got everything started.
We had the chance to rock with Rakim's son......that was pretty cool.
Overall, the day was bangin. Had a great time, the kids took everything in from the workshops. Hopefully we just saved some of them from becoming mindless zombies in the future. Hope we can do that again soon.

(Photos by: Jake Strauss, courtesy of the Westword)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

AFA @ Goodbye Blue Monday

Well tonight's show @ Goodbye Blue Monday went well.
Quest, d_Cyphernauts, Sketch, & Phenetiks all had great performances. I'll have some video of the night in a few days, but no picts. My camera was out of juice. Just wanted to give a quick update.
I hope everyone has enough sleep to get ready for the 12:30pm -10pm Hip Hop confrence at Westhill High School in CT.
Snare ... over and out