Hip Hop for Justice in South San Jose (De-Bug and Zulu Nation Event)
On Sept 30th, an event was held where Hip Hop and politics met hand in hand in the Southside of San Jose at the Edenvale Community Center. The day was beautiful, hot and felt like one of those BBQ type of days. Demone Carter (a veteran in the San Jose Hip Hop scene, and also a youth organizer) was the host for this event.
While the political force of hip hop has always been felt in the Bay Area, this event was an unprecedented display of culture and movement-making. Organizations that are fighting for a higher minimum wage, the end of the death penalty, and the creation of new supportive networks for the formerly incarcerated had the opportunity to share their message to a broad audience while also witnessing ground-breaking performances from some of the Bay's most innovative artists.
"I'm glad that I was able to throw this event, and to have such a good turn out. I'm very thankfull that people are getting a chance to see, and learn about organizations in their communities that can help lead to a better future," says Society, event organizer. The idea sprung from a show idea between Society and San Francisco's Dregs One. While Society was looking to bring Dregs to San Jose, he saw a bigger opportunity to unite Bay Area community building and hip hop.
San Jose Councilmember Ash Kalra also attended the event and noted how impressed he was to see such a diverse audience. "This is exactly what San Jose needs, people smiling, having a good time, and building with their community."
Steeda McGruder, founder of Sisters That Been There -- a project for women recently released from the prison system -- was one of the dozens of booths at Hip Hop for Justice. "I thought the event was a great creative way of connecting the people with all the resources, It was a great honor for Sisters That Been There to be recognized as a resource for justice." Steeda and the women from her group painted a mural live during Hip Hop for Justice.
As Malcolm Lee lets the music play for about 10 minutes, Demone grabs the mic one more time and introduces the next act. He is one of those "Old Souls" type of man, his name is IQ. He is a very active member in the community, and apart of Zulu Nation. IQ then gets up to the stage, and looks back at Malcolm Lee, and gives him the 'let's get this started' look. Malcolm then starts the music and Q's IQ in. He begins flowing. His set was nice and smooth, very positive, and in its own lane.
After his set finishes, Demone grabs the mic and draws the crowds attention to outside the gym door, where Cola and his father where serving BBQ to the folks who came out to the event. After the crowd had their share of the meal, everyone proceeded back into the gym for the next act. "I would like to introduce Metafizix," said Demone.
Metafizix is a San Jose group on the rise. It is comprised of two members, Cola and Society, who each have a skill in lyricism and getting the party started. Their set was good, with tracks off of Cola's mixtape and Society's and Malcolm's up and coming project. Their set was very hyped and got you amped, but at the same time let you vibe with positivity in the message. After they got off Dregs One was introduced.
As Dregs one came up to the stage and grabbed the mic, he asked everyone, "How are ya'll doing today?" and the crowd said it, and he said "Naw ya'll can do better than that" and the crowd got louder and he pointed at Malcolm and the set started. Dregs One is a San Francisco native, who is known for getting the crowd hyped with his social conscious hard Hip Hoppin' ways, and is very community based. He got the crowd to raise their hands and really got them when he was passing out his album for the free 99. His set was tight and very crowd involvement based. "It showed the unity that's starting to build in san jose. The fact that there's a lot of dope people who are committed to bridging the gaps in the community, also the fact that artists could bring hip-hop to the event was dope, because community involvement's a really big part of the culture that gets overlooked,"said Dregs.
The finale headliner, Rahman Jamaal walked up to the stage right when Dregs one set was over. Rahman is a dope lyricist who has been in the music game for years, he is community based, an actor, a musician, a poet, man this guy is an entertainer to the full extent of what that word means. He starts off with this orchestra beat where he flows with the piano that leaves you in a trance with his showcasing, how rhyme is really music.
In between sets chess games were going on in the back of the room, and people were going around talking to all the organizations learning about the help that they can recieve and movements they could get plugged into.
This year was a tremendous success, and next year will be even bigger.
San Jose City Councilperson Ash Kalra speaks to the folks of the community and the importance of uniting San Jose.
The finale act of the day Rahman Jamaal performing.
Some of the Sister's of "STBT" working hard on the piece.
Dregs One performing at the Hip Hop for Justice event.
One of the youth enjoying himself breakdancing to the music.
Photos by Kymera Stewart
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