Kids and their dad and mom flocked to Akron’s Hardesty Park to attend a hip-hop “boot camp” this July.
The occasion was the second annual boot camp created to show space youth the principle parts of hip-hop and unfold a message of positivity.
Williamson mentioned Alien Arts works to encourage the neighborhood to be inventive and pursue profession pursuits, utilizing hip-hop methodology as a approach to hook up with younger individuals.
The group was based in 2020 and spun off from Williamson’s pursuits as a constructive hip-hop artist.
He mentioned hip-hop music and tradition are sometimes perceived as violent and detrimental.
”I’m simply not about that, and I wouldn’t need the youth to really feel like that’s their solely choice. I need them to listen to another constructive music however not have a look at it as being corny,” he mentioned.
He’s attempting to interrupt the stereotypes, work together with the native youth, and be a pathway to careers by means of Alien Arts.
Redefining the general public notion of hip-hop
Williamson modeled the hip-hop boot camp after occasions in New York Metropolis within the mid-Nineteen Seventies.
“There was a DJ by the title of DJ Cool Herc who determined to do an after-school block celebration to offer teenagers shops or have an surroundings that was constructive and away from the gang exercise,” he mentioned.
Hip-hop concert events and occasions are sometimes stigmatized and stereotyped as harmful.
“In the event you attempt to ebook a venue, and also you inform them it’s hip-hop: ‘Uh-uh.’ ‘Cuz they really feel like lots of fights are going to interrupt out. There’s going to be violence and issues of that nature,” he mentioned. “So, once I plan an occasion, or Alien Arts, the non-profit plans an occasion, belief me, there is no such thing as a violence.”
The primary Alien Arts boot camp befell just about in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020.
After some preliminary hesitancy about internet hosting the occasion in particular person this summer season, Williamson mentioned he bought a lot neighborhood assist from the connections he’s made performing round Akron that he determined to proceed.
“Generally whenever you do issues, you are feeling like no one’s paying consideration or no one cares about your mission. However this has confirmed me fallacious,” he mentioned.
Internet hosting an in-person neighborhood occasion
The 2021 boot camp included interactive, hands-on actions and breakout classes centered across the 4 core parts of hip-hop tradition: breakdancing, graffiti artwork, DJing and MCing.
Every component of the tradition was introduced on the boot camp as a approach to push the native youth towards reaching their future objectives.
“You’ll be able to turn into a DJ. You’ll be able to turn into a muralist, painter, a tattoo artist. There are such a lot of professions that come out of those parts,” Williamson mentioned.
Attendees realized how one can breakdance and create mini murals—a element of graffiti—based mostly on their interpretation of hip-hop.
Williamson and different emcees taught rapping classes, and DJs demonstrated how one can scratch and mix information.
Motivational audio system lectured on succeeding within the skilled world of hip-hop and leisure.
“There’s so many careers and so many various occupations you may go into. You don’t at all times should be the star. Generally the individuals behind the cameras are making more cash,” Williamson mentioned.
Williamson wished to show youngsters to create connections in the neighborhood to allow them to attain out to these individuals as they work towards their skilled goals.
The boot camp helped kids discover the constructive aspect of hip-hop tradition, create a persona, write songs and see members of the area people who’ve succeeded in artwork, music, dance, producing or instructing.
“We’re going to show this subsequent technology one thing totally different,” Williamson mentioned. “One thing stuffed with substance and positivity.”
Main by instance
Williamson invited a big roster of native creatives and professionals to be a part of the occasion, together with his spouse and musician La Butterfly, producer Junior Simpson, rapper Big Chedda and Ladies First Akron founder and head coach Kenny Jo Jo Smith.
Dray Evans led the visible artwork element of the boot camp, instructing attendees concerning the varied methods they’ll specific themselves visually.
Evans is an Akron-based painter, tattoo artist, author, musician, filmmaker and motivational speaker.
“We [Akron] don’t have lots of artwork districts, murals on the wall, visible, dance, all that tradition,” Evans mentioned. “I wish to begin a camp instructing youngsters artwork. Train them to be free, have enjoyable.”
Dre “Stay” Borders, a member of the Akron hip-hop group Illstyle Rockers, led the breakdancing portion of the boot camp.
He needs to see extra occasions like this occur at parks in Akron.
“I want the rappers would simply get round others at parks and rap,” Borders mentioned. “They don’t should have the sound man. Deliver your music out, get free after which have author’s benches, b-boy benches. And if individuals wish to come round and simply see who’re the native hip-hop stars, I believe that will be nice.”
When Smith took the stage on the boot camp, he led the gang with a call-and-response motivational speech.
“I’m sturdy! I’m highly effective! I’m a genius! I’m that I’m. So, I wished to just be sure you guys perceive the facility of essentially the most highly effective phrases on the earth: I’m. However moreover, dad and mom, youngsters, there is no such thing as a limits to something,” Smith mentioned.
Turning into a constructive hip-hop artist
In 2010, the Akron group Keepers of the Art hosted annual hip-hop concert events and ran a contest for native artists to open for a big-name act.
Williamson received the competition and opened for Rakim and Slum Village.
“I wasn’t at all times a constructive hip-hop artist, and I heard this was going to be extra of a family-friendly occasion, so I began engaged on some new materials that was extra constructive and uplifting,” Williamson mentioned.
Williamson mentioned mainstream rap is simply “one aspect of the coin.” The rap songs he writes and performs as Minus the Alien are clear and goal to unfold an uplifting message.
“It actually received over the gang, and I bear in mind once I bought off the stage, dad and mom have been coming as much as me after saying, ‘Youngsters actually need to listen to or see hip-hop this fashion, too,’” Williamson mentioned. “By no means do I wish to put one thing out within the universe that might damage somebody. As a result of phrases are highly effective.”
He began an after-school program for a couple of years, working with Middlebury Academy and constitution faculties in Akron. He mentioned it was profitable.
Williamson can be an alumnus of the Neighborhood Management Institute of Summit County and obtained the 2018 Males of Champions Award introduced by Mayor Dan Horrigan and the Pleasure Park Neighborhood Federation.
He took a hiatus from neighborhood outreach and youth mentorship to concentrate on his music for a couple of years.
“I wished to get myself on the market to some extent the place I might truly convey in additional sources for the youth and neighborhood,” he mentioned.
He began a file label, started making connections and performing all through the town.
Persevering with to unfold the message
In 2020, he launched Alien Arts to proceed his message of connecting with native youth by means of hip-hop tradition.
The group companions with different native nonprofits, faculties and church teams to get youngsters .
“What made me actually wish to begin Alien Arts was I had lots of connections in the neighborhood, simply from me in my free time, I did lots of [free] neighborhood reveals once I was first beginning out,” Williamson mentioned. “Simply wished to unfold a constructive message. The pandemic slowed me down a lot I used to be like, ‘I actually am lacking that neighborhood connection.”
Now, he’s attempting to tour Akron Public Colleges with assemblies to spice up morale. He plans to host dance events and small variations of the hip-hop boot camp sooner or later.
“The tradition was not meant to tear down the neighborhood. It was meant to uplift the neighborhood. And I need this new technology of youthful youngsters, possibly beginning in elementary faculty, to have the ability to be taught concerning the historical past of that tradition,” he mentioned.
Williamson additionally needs to point out Akron-area hip-hop artists that they’ll open extra doorways for themselves by writing and releasing extra constructive materials.
“While you include all that cussing, you’re shutting lots of doorways. You’re not going to have lots of alternatives to showcase it due to your content material,” he mentioned.
He has plans for increasing his message and hip-hop tradition all through the town.
“My complete mission on high of that’s to protect hip-hop tradition, and I kinda wish to make Akron be the following pit cease to New York … like, ‘The place are all these hip-hop communities at?’ I’d love to show Akron into that mecca,” he mentioned.