Madison identifies itself as a progressive, liberal town. The small college town with open minds, open hearts and open arms. That’s what is discussed when people talk about Madison. And perhaps that truly is what this city is for some people. But for others it is not that way. For others they’re made to feel so, well, Othered.
Nothing being said here is new. Madison has had its racial identity be the subject of panels, summits, councils and articles for years and years.
But what is new in Madison is the push towards empowerment by a generation of young hip hop artists, poets and spoken word virtuosos who are putting themselves on the line to try and break through the not-so-subtle barriers of the city.
On Saturday, October 6, at 7 pm Artists Collective is presenting a Hip Hop Fundraiser to benefit the Progress Center for Black Women, One City Schools and Free The 350 Bail Fund. The fundraiser, which will be held at 1444 East Washington Ave will provide a venue for anyone wanting to experience the burgeoning hip hop scene in Madison as well as support organizations that have been at the forefront of improving the lives of people of color around Madison.
Doors will open at 6pm with the show beginning at 7. Pre-ordered tickets are being sold for $6 and the price is $10 at the door.
Kilo aka Skitlz, Red the Bully, Jay B. Coolin, Chas, Willie Wright, Lil Guillotine, Derek John and Rambunxious are among the local artists who are going to be performing at the fundraiser.
Skitlz, who identifies as LGBT, was named the Madison Hip Hop Music Awards’ top artist in 2015. She has been all over the local scene in Madison promoting self-empowerment and addressing racial disparities.
Wright, who is originally from New York, has been living in Madison and raising his profile recently, while Lil Guillotine has been performing anti-racist and anti-ICE music. Alise Mosley is an R&B artist, which is rarely seen around Madison. All of the artists are in touch with the pulse of Madison and will bring unique sets of talents to the show.
“We’re a group of local artists getting together to help each others music careers and manage each others music. We’re promoting the hip hop movement in Madison, which is also the Black Power Movement,” Rose Manjon of KML Promotions told Madison365. “We’re looking at raising funds for grassroots organizations like the Progress Center for Black Women. Black women in Madison earn a lot less in salary in Madison compared to other cities and compared to white women in Madison. So Progress has a center for black women with the goal of helping the whole community. One City is owned by Kaleem Caire, and one of the artist’s daughters went there. It’s a black owned business that is important to support.”
Manjon said that the funds raised will also help give bail to the disproportionate number of incarcerated black men and women in the Dane County Jail. Free The 350 Bail Fund is a coalition of artists, organizations like Freedom Inc, the LGBTQ community and a lot of other community members focused on closing the racial gap in the Dane County Jail.
Manjon told Madison365 that Art In, which is the venue hosting the Hip Hop Fundraiser, is one of the few places willing to even entertain a Hip Hop event.
“I think it’s a challenge to promote Hip Hop in Madison,” Manjon said. “Madison acts like it’s a liberal town. But there’s a lot of venues that refuse to play hip hop. There’s legislation or people lobbying to take hip hop out of jukeboxes in bars and other venues. Madison is very high on racial injustices and disparities. We feel it’s racist tactics and putting down the Hip Hop Movement is putting down the Black Power Movement. It’s further marginalizing people and we’re going to look out for our community and promote this.”
But on Saturday night at Art In, Hip Hop will be performed. R&B as well. It will be safe, fun and a way to further empower the community against racism and racial disparities. It will also give the community a chance to elevate the careers of local artists from the Madison area who will benefit from the support.