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The following is an op-ed submitted by Ald. Khalif J. Rainey.
"Dwelling in the past flashbacks when I was young ..." - Ghostface, "All That I Got Is You" from "Ironman")
Hip hop was our older brother. The one that traveled the country and came back with stories of grandeur about what he witnessed. The older brother that kept us connected to the parts of the world we could only visit in our minds. Eyes closed listening to him speak of seeing Rakim move the crowd. Kool Herc DJ playing basement rec rooms filled to capacity. Public Enemy being unapologetically politically aware. Before the internet, we had our older brother, hip hop.
We learned everything we needed to know about what was going on in other parts of the country via the poetic words of the great emcees he sent home for us to listen to. We sat at his feet and took all this in and pieced together our own vision of hip hop. We watched "Beat Street" and "Wild Style" religiously because our older brother was in it. We listened to 860 AM every day after school trying to hear the latest our older brother had to offer to us. On weekends, we listened to the A-side and the B-side on 91.7 with our tape decks ready to record any and everything. The next day we went to Audio Vibe and looked for the tape that we heard on the radio.
The music was like care packages sent home with just our names on it. Hip hop was the older brother that went off to college and came back with mixtapes filled with 8ball and MJG. He would come and he would go, leaving us anxiously awaiting the next jewel he would share. He was the brother that we looked up to but could never hang out with consistently because we were too young and not ready.
We are ready now. Milwaukee is ready.
This week we have the opportunity to greet our big brother with open arms and show him we did pay attention, we watched him grow and become an international presence. From August 20-26, Milwaukee will host the inaugural Hip Hop Week MKE. We have the pleasure of showing our big brother we’ve seen how he has grown over the last 40 years. How he’s become well rounded and involved in transformative health debates, financial wellness, community engagement and volunteerism but yet remaining true to the spirit of how he has raised us. Hip hop is here to plant roots and change the narrative of what others may see him as.
Join me this week as we welcome our big brother, hip hop, with love and respect to the inaugural Hip Hop Week MKE. Attached is a schedule of events for the week. I hope to see you at all of them excited and ready to partake in this historic event. We are the culture formed via the lineage from whence we came.