Austin’s long underappreciated but burgeoning hip hop community has recently been taking matters into its own hands, from new collaborations to record releases to summits.
Last month, two conversations took place in hopes of building consensus in the community. The Hip Hop Rhymes to Business Minds event at Doris Miller, led by noted Austin musician Terrany Johnson, aka Tee-Double, was hosted in partnership with the new Notes for Notes recording studio program. Though the event saw a modest turnout, the general meet and greet evolved into a round table discussion on steps artists can use to become sustainable and better creatives.
“We had people form the tech community present, as well as music industry professionals with over 30 years’ experience in P.R., running record labels, management, branding and more,” said Johnson.
“As the organizer of the event, I kept the dialogue constructive with young artists in attendance, eager to chime in and ask questions which those in those fields were just as eager to answer and establish relationships beyond the evening’s event.”
With a focus on the urban music community and solidifying that foundation, the urban Artist Alliance has tried to remain at the forefront of new ways to partner with local non-profits to benefit those on the east side who don’t have ready access to travel to music industry events downtown and across the city.
“We kept our event in the heart of East Austin and opened our doors and book of knowledge to all who entered,” said Johnson. “It was a huge success and with seeing the spark grow bigger in the young artists’ eyes, I can say we hit a home run. The message is to stay inspired and lead by doing.”
“It was great seeing such an array of people in the room,” said organizer Clifford Gillard. With support from the ATX Music Division, the Austin Music Commission, the African American Advisory Resource Commission and Note for Notes, the event included dialogue and a white board session to take input from participants to develop a position paper with recommendations to improve the hip hop and urban music genres. The end product will be presented to City Council members.
“In my opinion one of the biggest things holding the scene back is a sense of unity amongst the artists,” one artist commented. “We have slowly developed individual relationships with venues and promoters. If we were galvanized those relationships would reach much further which result in a much more united front to the city. My theory is that once there is a strong roster of connected artists, the city will become their collective audience, which will result in a much more stronger presence for the local talent. As for now, I feel the surrounding entities are doing as much as they can to help but it is on us entirely as artists to promote the well-being of the scene in its infant stages.”
Another sign of the rising strength of the Hip Hop community is this month’s continuing series of Body Rock ATX events on Friday July 7, 10 p.m. at Empire Control Room & Garage, featuring DJ Chorizo Funk and Chaka + Qi Dada (Riders Against the Storm). Songs in the Key of Stankonia (Outkast plus Stevie Wonder) is the night’s Stevie Wonder and Outkast tribute theme. A monthly party/jam with DJ Charlie on the patio, Body Rock keeps Hip Hop, Funk, Soul, Reggae, Dancehall, New Jack Swing, Latin, in heavy rotation. Cover is $10 at door. The hosts’ promise is, “your inner visions will show you the way to our Southernplayalstic vibrations.