New York, NY – The words “I am a citizen of Hip-Hop” permeated throughout the second floor plaza suite of the Roosevelt Hotel during a powerful symposium entitled: “Business in Hip-Hop,” one of the opening sessions of the 16th Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit, where eight industry professionals joined Rev. Jesse L. Jackson in a packed room to discuss the current state of Hip-Hop music, the pros and cons of its commercial growth.
Participants of the panel included Harvey Butler, Chief Executive Officer, Butler Management Group, LLC, former Vice President, Supplier Diversity at JPMorgan Chase; Martha Diaz, Founder and Director, Hip Hop Education Center, NYU; Deborah A. Williams, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Her Game 2, Inc.; Craig Wilson, Founder National Museum of Hip Hop and Wayne Winston, Vice President, Caribbean Chamber of Commerce, Bridgeport, CT.
“The wrong people are in control of Hip-Hop, said Bob Celestin, an entertainment lawyer who has been working with artists for more than two decades. “You have Russell Simmons, Def Jam and a few others, but there are fewer and fewer of those companies and people who understand the true essence of Hip-Hop.”
In order to address the misconceptions of Hip Hop, and to salvage the culture, Martha Diaz, founder and director of Hip-Hop education center wants to see more non-profit organizations, museums and institutions committed to informing people of the music’s history.
Although there are some negative aspects to the growth of Hip Hop, its transformation is not all bad. Craig Wilson, founder of the National Museum of Hip Hop believes that the new music that is out, although more commercial, is still real.
“One thing that is true about Hip Hop is those who have been here for a long time have the tendency to wax nostalgia,” he said. “But we have to understand Hip Hop is a reflection of the world we live in. It has always been that way.” Rev. Jesse Jackson echoed that sentiment, and ended the session by stating that Hip Hop is evolving just like all things do, and the change should be embraced. “Hip Hop lasts because we keep watering the flower, the root,” Jackson said. “The child might be called Hip Hop, but you don’t know who Hip Hop will get married to. It may come out as rap, it may come out in a sermon. All of this is a confluence of forces coming together.”