“Young Hip Hop Artists Bust da Moves”
Written by John Lyle for the Big Island Weekly
Hilo, Hawai`i - Students from schools and dance studios around Hawai`i Island dazzled an enthusiastic audience at the Earth Patriot Hip Hop Music and Dance Concert held Saturday, January 17 at Hilo's Palace Theater. The free concert celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and promoted The National Day of Service. In addition to performing, students were encouraged to commit to a service project in their community as well as to help those less fortunate by bringing canned goods and other non-perishable items to the concert.
Using 'positive conscious rap' music by artists such as NAS, Common, Sudden Rush, Kumanu and I. A., the performers represented the High School of the Pacific, Waimea Middle School, Honoka'a High-Intermediate, N2 Dance Studio and Cataclysm. Leilehua Yuen, who did the opening oli, was very impressed: "Those kids were just amazing!"
Well-known O'ahu hip hop artist I. A. acted as emcee and performed some of his award winning music. In addition, awesome performances were given by Ace Espejo and 'Bolo' and a sensational impromptu encore with Bolo and I.A. sent the audience into a frenzy.
Artistically integrated into the show were clips from the movie 'Rize', featuring young hip hop dancers from inner city LA sharing their compelling story of how they overcame gang violence through perseverance and mutual support to become world class hip hop dancers. Segments of Dr King's “I Have A Dream" speech were also shown, reminding the mostly young audience of the significance of the day's event in the context of America's long, painful struggles with equality and justice for all.
"In addition to promoting the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the concert supported efforts of The Food Basket (Hawai`i Island Food Bank) to feed Hawai`i Island families", said Howard Shapiro, Executive Director of Performing and Fine Artists for World Peace (PFAWP). Roberta DeMotta, Director of The Food Basket commented on the importance of partnering with events and organizations such as this in order to raise awareness about hunger and the importance of good nutrition in our communities.
Cindy Navarro Bowman, teacher at Honoka`a High-Intermediate said her students hugged and thanked her for bringing them. "Teachers often don't get that kind of appreciation, at least that way", she said. "They told us
they really wanted to participate again next year."
Michal Anna Carrillo, dance teacher at Waimea Middle School said, "These kids had an awesome experience and loved the opportunity not only to perform for a live Palace Theatre audience, but to meet an artist as talented as I.A.". She added that the event opened peoples' hearts and minds to peace, a genuine tribute to Dr. King.
For his part, I. A. had this to say: "Mahaloz for this opportunity. Ya know, who would of thought Hip Hop culture could have such an impact in Hawai'i, a place almost completely the opposite of NYC where it was birthed. I was proud to be part of this Hilo event cuz it displayed the positive message that hip hop possesses, especially in a time when it's stereotyped in such a narrow, negative way. Hip Hop is very much alive in Hilo, Hawai`i ".
The concert was a joint project of the Artists in Action for Human Rights Program, sponsored by PFAWP and Amnesty International, one of the leading human rights organizations in the world. Adiyah Ali, Field Organizer for the Amnesty USA's Southern Regional Office, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Hilo event.
"Amnesty International is honored to partner with Performing and Fine Artists for World Peace (PFAWP) using human rights education as a tool to bring about positive change, especially as the world celebrates the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights", said Ali. "We join Performing and Fine Artists for World Peace in honoring Dr. King's legacy as one of the world's great human rights leaders and defenders."
Booths in the Palace lobby included the Food Basket, Hawai`i Island United Way, Recycle Hawai`i, Big Island Dance Council, United Nations Association Hawai`i Chapter and Truth 2 Youth. Major sponsors for the concert were Recycle Hawai'i, The Big Island Dance Council, KHBC Radio, Peck Tunes, Perryscope Records, The Palace Theater and Kumanu Music.
The Earth Patriot Hip Hop Music and Dance Concert was an alcohol and drug free event funded in part by a Healing Our Island Community Fund grant, administered by the Hawai'i County Resource Center.
For more information contact Howard Shapiro at 808.985.8725 or e-mail him at email@example.com.