Damn, It Was a Good Day

Posted Mar 13 2006

Cold chillin' at the NAACP's Hip Hop Summit and Latin Night at the Parabox in Detroit. (Sample article for Urban Box Office, Nov. 15, 1999)

Yesterday was about as perfect as it can get as I spent the entire day with friends indulging in three of my passions: music, food and education. I spent the morning and afternoon hanging out at the fourth annual Hip Hop Youth Summit hosted by the Detroit Branch NAACP Young Adult Committee. Too often we have to go elsewhere for some quality hip-hop programming so it was great to see young people taking it upon themselves to make things happen right here in the D. The day featured workshops, a concert, and a keynote address by Minister Conrad Muhammad. A former minister with the Nation of Islam, Minister Muhammad works with members of the hip-hop generation to get involved with politics and education. "I've challenged rappers: Since you love the hood so much, since you're true to the hood and you can sell 1 million records, you can run for office and win 10,000 votes," he proclaimed. He encouraged summit participants to use their creative energy to politically organize and when he was through, the crowd cheered for him as if he were Jay Z. Workshops on the music industry and technology were hosted by the likes of Wendy Day of the Rap Coalition and the day ended with a hip hop concert that included Detroit homegirl/Sony recording artist Cha Cha and an impromptu performance by Tommy Boy artist Royce the Five Nine. Media coverage was sorely lacking, but as one participant noted, "if a fight broke out, there would have been cameras everywhere. Where are the cameras when we're doing something positive?" Considering that the summit started at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, the young people who came out obviously aren't as lazy and apathetic as they're often portrayed. A big up to the NAACP Young Adult Committee and all of the sponsors.

Later that night, I got into a Caribbean state of mind and headed off to Latin night at the Parabox. I hadn't been there in awhile and once I arrived I quickly remembered how good people here looked! People come G'd up and both men and women are dressed to impress. I was asked to be a guest DJ for the night, spinning Latin house but I integrated my own style into my mix, weaving in American club classics by Stever "Silk" Hurley and even some Jamaican dancehall. People went nuts! As much as I would like to take credit for their reaction, the fact that I got away with playing such a diverse range of music is a testament to the people. I was talking with DJ Chico who co-hosts the night and he said that although the clubs in his native Miami are much larger, the quality of the clientele at the Parabox is much better. "I can talk with everyone of our customers in here and have a meaningful conversation." The diversity of the night of the clubs is unparalleled with college kids dancing next to grandparents, Cubans dancing next to Vietnamese and working class mingling with white collars. As Chico pointed out, "just look at the type of cars that pull up. We get people coming in everything from beat-up Pintos to Beamers. People just want to have fun."

When day was done, I was quite proud to say that Detroit is my home. What makes this city so great, and brimming with potential for even more growth isn't the casinos or the new stadiums, it's the people. We've got a long way to go, but Detroiters aren't content with just being victims of circumstance. Mixing hard work with hard play, our only limit is our imaginations!


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