The 12th annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival kicked off today with a series of panels in Crown Heights and culminates later this week with a concert in Brooklyn Bridge Park featuring Nas, Fabolous, and Talib Kweli. As Wes Jackson, the President and Executive Director of Brooklyn Bodega/Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, explained to The FADER over email, the event is more relevant than ever in a world where politics is music and within "Hip-Hop’s DNA is the solution to the problem that ails us."
Read his full letter below and check out the full schedule above and on the festival's website.
WES JACKSON: As we are set to begin our 12th Annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival I wanted to take a moment and address the tragedies of last week and how it will affect our Festival. Since before the murders of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin we have been committed to creating a safe place where we could address the myriad of issues facing our community. Local engagement, self determination, and social justice have always been, and continue to be at the forefront of our mission.
While we are saddened and horrified by the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile as well as the five Dallas Officers, we are happy to be able to provide the platform where we can have thoughtful discussions on these pervasive issues. We particularly look forward to The Hip-Hop Institute at Medgar Evers College Wednesday, July 13th as a place where activists and advocates on both sides can dialogue. It may seem lofty and idealistic but I firmly believe that baked into Hip-Hop’s DNA is the solution to the problem that ails us. The animosity and vitriol that is the child of segregation and brutality has never had a place in Hip-Hop culture. Since its early days, Hip-Hop has been a coalition of White and Black, Gay and Straight, Blue Collar and White Collar, Suburban and Metropolitan. We know how to sit down and iron out our differences for the greater good. We know how to stand up for our rights with a powerful and defiant voice without being disrespectful and violent.
The police officers patrolling our streets are not all foreign invaders with no connection to our homes and businesses. They are EPMD fans (shout out DJ Scratch) who before they put on their badge were windmilling in the streets with the rest of us. We are all a part of the culture and the culture can be the table at which we all sit and reason with each other.
Our local precinct, and in particular certain officers, have been great friends of the Festival since day one. I would never wish them any harm. They have helped keep the Festival safe and incident free for over a decade. And I know they are committed to continuing their service this year. The good people in those crowds who have helped us build this wonderful event are also honorable and enlightened brothers and sisters who have always come in peace and in the spirit of positivity.
So I am looking forward to this week, in the midst of these sad times. As always, Hip-Hop will lead and show us all the way. The way to a path of understanding and justice for all. I look forward to seeing you all this week - with your babies, your husbands, wives, aunties and grandmas. We are gonna build together and come up with some solutions while we celebrate our lives in a manner that will make all our ancestors proud.