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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

DURM Hip-Hop Summit 

The DURM Hip-Hop Summit went off July 28th at The Casbah. The summit, as the nomenclature signals, was about coming together.

The idea was to have each of what are considered the five pillars1 of hip-hop represented. This sensibility is rooted in an understanding that hip-hop is a socio-cultural movement. While there is no doubt music is at the core, it is more than just the music. It was most important to, our friend and organizer, Jay Lawrence, aka The Real Laww, that the fullness, richness and texture of hip-hop culture be represented.

The Clarion Content can appreciate, and we are grateful to have such cosmopolitan supporters of renaissance culture here in Durham.

The Clarion Content was delighted to see that sponsors of the event included our old friends at Runaway Clothes. The Real Laww and Runaway Clothes are tight; collaborating, backing each others events, and their partnership was recognition by the Hip-Hop Summit of the plushness of culture; fashion too, is part and parcel of Durham and hip-hop.

The evening for the Clarion Content team began with the breakdancing. The dancers were fantastic.2 The Casbah pulsed. The crowd vibed with the moment as the place continued to get more and more crowded.

You can check out some of the live performances here and here.

Lucky for us the amazing photog who is Scenes from my Lunch Hour was on-hand.3

The Real Laww
Photo credit Scenes from my Lunch Hour.

Photo credit Scenes from my Lunch Hour.

Down the block, later that evening, our correspondent was standing near the entrance of one of Durham's fine watering holes, knocking back a few cold ones and discussing the DURM Hip-Hop Summit. It was there we heard a classic backstory. Durham is a medium sized town with big city culture. We are no more than 2.5 degrees of separation away from each other.

This was hip-hop culture come to life. One of the performers, Joshua Gunn, aka J. Gunn, was well known to one of our drinking buddies. Our friend4 began to tell stories, describing how J. Gunn honed his craft, the freestyle battles, the ground level view of hip-hop culture. Apparently back in the day at Jordan High School, kids used to spend weeks on end preparing their raps and lyrics to challenge J. Gunn at recess. Frequently, the battles were for lunch money. $4 or $5 was high stakes if it meant you were hungry the rest of the day.

Our source says J. Gunn was legendary even then for bringing it hard and off the cuff. Other kids would rehearse and rehearse and he would cut'em down time and again. His raps, rhymes, lyrics, and story today verify the Gladwell 10,000 hour rule.

Not a week later, your correspondent was attending a Durham DBL basketball game,5 when we heard a parallel tale at a different place in the narrative. We were standing in the hallway at the Boys & Girls Club, just before two teams of young, highly energetic twelve to sixteen year-old ballers poured into the crowded gym. The atmosphere was electric. And as is to be expected in such testosterone filled environments, there was a certain amount of smack talk in the air. Darned if we didn't hear two young men agree to battle it out with words rather than fists on the playground next week.

Freestyle and hip-hop culture live on.

The DURM Hip-Hop Summit came strong. We await further performances and have high expectations for those involved. Toon & The Real Laww, Defacto Thezpian, The Beast, J. Gunn, Lazurus & Sarah Kaboom.

The Clarion Content has a special graffiti surprise in store for you in these pages next week.

1The five pillars of hip-hop, not to be conflated with any other set of five pillars, are the MC, the Breakdancer, the DJ, Beatboxing, and graffiti artists.

2Your correspondent has cut rug from NYC to SF.

3Her lunch hour may be later than yours.

4We may have heard this story from someone who is an extra in this music video.

5We double as the play-by-play commentator and author of the league's program.

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