Hip hop culture is usually maligned as anti-social, but Rap Sheet's second annual Hip Hop Caucus, subtitled "Toward a Unified Hip Hop Nation," was overwhelmingly positive. Rappers, DJs, industry execs, journalists, and fans converged on the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood last week for a variety of seminars and music showcases and the prerequisite schmoozing. Panels touched on topics like radio, retail, and marketing; this writer participated in "Hip Hop Journalism 101," representing 4080 hip hop magazine among colleagues like Sheena Lester from RapPages, Tracii McGregor from URB, Adario Strange from The Source, and Mimi Valdes from Vibe. On the table were issues like balance and objectivity, the role of urban publications as the "protectors of hip hop," payola (the previous night one artist offered 4080 $5,000 for a cover -- refused, of course), and the separation of church and state -- editorial and advertising, that is. Among the rap celebrities in the house were Kool Keith of Ultra Magnetic MCs, JT the Bigga Figga, Get Low Playaz, and Chuck D, spotted taking notes at the "Media Assassins" panel. Performance highlights came via Smif-N-Wessun, Ice Cube, and Group Home. Meanwhile, the elderly tourists who chose the Roosevelt because of its proximity to the Hollywood Walk of Fame were buggin' to see a legion of b-boys and -girls in hoodies and Timbos hanging out for four days.
By Billy Jam, Eric K. Arnold