Hip-hop pioneer KRS-One was in town last week for a lecture and performance at Fresno State, then another performance two days later at Karma. His second show was the same night at the Beehive Birthday bash and he snuck in real quick to check out the party before his performance.
I talked to him for a bit, and asked him to give The Beehive a shout out (We forgive you for goofing on the URL, Blastmaster). He also talked a bit about Fresno hip-hop, mentioning some of our early ties to popping, and then references how Fresno isn’t exactly welcoming to hip-hop (more on that below).
As you might recall, only 150 people were allowed into KRS’ show at the university, leaving hundreds outside in the cold. Here’s a statement from Dr. T. Hasan Johnson, who teaches the hip-hop class in Fresno State’s Africana Studies Program and who organized the KRS-One visit and concerts. He explains a little bit about what happened at the performance and what he’s trying to accomplish within Fresno’s hip-hop community.
I invited KRS-One, Planet Asia, and Mona M. Walker to Fresno care of the Annual Hip-Hop Research & Interview Project (HHRIP). This was the second year of the event, where last year X-Clan was the primary performers. The focus of the program is to remind people that Hip-Hop is bigger than a concert or a show. For some of us, it is how we live, and despite what people conditioned on corporate media may think, Hip-Hop is as much about activism, intellect, and love as it is about a concert.
Hence, HHRIP is focused on having significant figures in Hip-Hop come to Fresno and speak, be interviewed on Fresno State radio (90.1 KFSR), then exhibit their skills in a small performance. The event was developed to compliment the Hip-Hop class I teach on campus (to my knowledge, the only Hip-Hop class in central California), entitled “Hip-Hop Culture: Globalization, Masculinity, and Representation.”
In the tradition of Black Studies (circa 1969), it is my hope that we can continue to open such events to the Fresno community and enjoy/learn about Hip-Hop together! Unfortunately, there are times when some people on the campus can be a bit fearful of Hip-Hop, so the performance portion of KRS-One’s visit was limited to 150 people. So, some were upset that they could not get in. Because of this, it was important to me to set up another time for people to enjoy KRS’ visit, so I asked a student to set up the visit at Club Karma.
Although it had a good turn out, it is my hope that next year we can establish a collaborative task force of on-campus faculty, staff, students, and off-campus Hip-Hop lovers to make sure that the event is more inclusive. That way, we can prevent the kind of feverish fear that prevents our events from garnering more support, making not only our events difficult to put on, but even difficult to publicize. I also developed this program to help bolster retention and enhance recruitment for Black and Brown males to come to Fresno State. This is a demographic sorely in need of attention on the campus. However, in order for this to be more of a success, we need to continue to show people that Hip-Hop and violence are not synonymous.
This event has been supported by some incredible people on campus: Dean Luz Gonzales in the College of the Social Sciences, Chair Malik Simba and entire faculty collective of Africana Studies, Loretta Kessinger, chair of Women’s Studies, Erin Kent and Matt Mileham in the Satellite Student Union, and Francine Oputa, director of the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute. Without their help this event could not have been a success.
We look forward to doing this event next year, with your support!