Hip Hop Without Borders wants everyone to know that they are open for business, crossing the borders within and between communities. The burgeoning organization is spending quality time with The League (formerly The League of Pissed Off Voters) to promote activist awareness for social change.
“We believe it’s important that hip hop hits as many places as we can get it to hit,” says co-founder Alex Steed. “Hip hop is socially acceptable self-expression—but also because hip hop is protest music, it is a culture that questions its surroundings and helps those within it grow as a people and as a culture.”
The group seeks an immediate breakdown of hip hop stereotypes as propagated by the mass media. Functioning as a hip hop PR agency of sorts, Hip Hop Without Borders plans to hold panel discussions to teach the community of the socially responsible side of the movement.
On the horizon is an international goal to act as emissaries for hip hop culture beyond America’s borders. Steed’s interest in Serbia provides an opportunity for the organization to export positive American culture to the re-emerging state. Co-founder Gabe FM is collecting refurbished drum machines to distribute to outlying communities disconnected from modern technological access.
Steed remarks, “During the Milosevic regime, rock music and hip hop wasn’t allowed. It was too thought-provoking. It was squashed and overshadowed by a mindless pop music called turbo-folk. While their attack on artistic, idea-generating expression was less veiled than this country’s attack on thoughtfulness, it’s eerily similar.”
The League also banks on the idea that the communicative elements of hip hop will open the doors to social change. The newly streamlined Portland chapter of the national organization wants to reframe politics as an accessible and possible dialogue. “The consciousness is already there,” says Claire Howard. “We want to bring these people to the table and show them there are ways to identify and change the things that need changing.”
The League is throwing a party May 6 at 58 Fore Street with local hip-hop crews LabSeven and Dirt Coalition along with Biko Baker, political columnist for the hip hop magazine The Source and founder of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention, as well as local candidates for governor, slam-poets, and the work of local graffiti artists.
For more information, check out www.portlandme.indyvoter.org and www.hiphopwithoutborders.com
ReEmergence with LabSeven + Dirt Coalition + Biko Baker | May 6, 7 pm | Portland Company complex, 58 Fore St, Building 11 | Portland | 207.772.3207