The Madison Hip-Hop scene will come together around great music, celebration, and giving back to the community as the Urban Community Arts Network (UCAN), with support from Madison Media Institute, hosts the fourth annual Madison Hip-Hop Awards (MHHA) show on Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Barrymore Theater on Madison's near east side.
“The night will feature awards and performances by winners from last year's award show,” says UCAN President Karen Reece. “We are really excited about the event and are looking forward to putting on a good show.”
UCAN Vice President Mark ‘Shah’ Evans will serve as emcee for the event. Over the last few months, hundreds of fans have cast votes in this year’s Madison Hip-Hop Awards contests that will give out awards in categories like Artist of the Year, Group of the Year, Producer of the Year, and Studio Engineer of the Year as well as awards for Best Videographer, Radio Personality, Album and Mixtape, among others. Votes were independently counted and tracked again this year with the help of local musical services company Broadjam.
The evening event will also feature amazing live performances by the Boys and Girls Club Creative & Performing Arts (CAPA) Music Makers and 2012 MHHA winners East Madison Breakers, Jesse Lester, Tha SB, Kiing Del, and Michael Medall. Proceeds from the show will benefit The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County CAPA programs.
The Madison Hip-Hop Awards started four years ago with a specific purpose — to be a vehicle to showcase and celebrate the local Hip-Hop scene’s talent, continuity, and teamwork.
“Madison Hip-Hop has had struggles for a couple of decades — basically since it started,” Reece tells The Madison Times in an interview at Cargo Coffee on Madison's south side. “It's struggled to gain a foothold, to get consistent venues to perform in, and [to gain] consistent recognition. The awards show was started in an effort to create unity in the local Hip-Hop community. We wanted to draw positive attention to the Hip-Hop music genre in Madison and to create opportunities for artists to work together and to create community.
“There is some real talent here in Madison,” Reece continues. “We have artists here from people who are doing it as therapy or a hobby all the way to people who really want to make it in the music industry and who perform and go on tours regionally and nationally … but they can't perform in their hometown.”
Some of the struggles that Hip- Hop has seen in Madison have to do with local politics, Reece says, and some of it has to do with available performance spaces for the genre of music.
“We're working on collecting the data so we have the actual research to back up what we're talking about,” Reece says. “The sheer numbers of events that have actually happened and how many negative events have happened. There is a difference between what people perceive and what the reality is when it comes to Hip-Hop.”
UCAN is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering and sustaining the local Hip-Hop scene through education and live music events in the community.
“As the Hip-Hop Awards were started, at the first few planning meetings we had about 30-40 artists, producers, engineers, fans, and business owners at the table all talking about what we want to do … what would be our vision,” Reece remembers. “We unanimously decided that we wanted to be a non-profit that benefited the greater community. So, for the first year, we gave the proceeds to Toys For Tots. The second year we moved on to Boys and Girls Club music programs. As we first got organized we realized that there were so many things we could do as a Hip-Hop community to benefit the greater community.”
UCAN, whose mission is, in part, to empower and unify youth and adults in the Madison area using urban arts, specifically Hip-Hop — is mostly focused on catering to the ages 16-30 demographic.
“What we really want to do is to build some bridges between what is happening in youth programs to what's happening with adults in this music scene right now,” Reece says. “A popular concept is to use Hip-Hop as an educational tool and that gets a lot of attention when it is used with kids. But when it transitions into the adult realm and into the live music performance realm — all of a sudden it starts to take on negative connotations. So what we want to do is to try and bridge those two worlds and to teach young artists what they need to do to become successful as they become young adults and want to pursue music as a career.”
Reece says that they also want young people to know that there are all kinds of careers in the music industry that they can think about pursuing. “They don't just have to rap; they don't just have to produce,” Reece says. “They can be engineers. They can be marketing agents, PR[public relations] people, or managers. There are a lot of different ways people can make a living in this industry.”
Reece was born and raised in Madison and always had a tremendous love for the local music scene. “I loved the punk rock scene and I especially loved Hip-Hop,” she says. “I really wanted to get involved and see if I could help fix this situation.”
Reece has had volunteer experience in reentry with Madison area Urban Ministry and Voices Beyond Bars as well as years of experience with loved ones involved in the criminal justice system. Reece is the Director of Nehemiah Center for Justice and Reconciliation and she has seen close-up the power of community.
“One of the things that we really struggle with in Hip-Hop is building community,” she says. “This year, there is not a single place where a local artist can book a show. Some local artists are getting asked to open for national touring acts when they come to town, but it is very limited who venues are comfortable hosting. So we cannot have a fully local artist bill at any venue in town right now. So, where are people supposed to gather?
“Facebook is fine, but you need that physical face-to-face contact to really build community,” she adds. “It's been a real struggle for us.”
That's why organizations like UCAN and events like the annual Madison Hip-Hop Awards (MHHA) show are so important. UCAN fundraising often come from their shows, but they will once in awhile get donations from local businesses and community members. “It's been a struggle to get people to sponsor us because of the word 'Hip-Hop' in the title and because of the political implications of that,” she says. “We are hoping we can change that.”
Why should Madisonians come and check out the fourth annual Madison Hip-Hop Awards (MHHA) this weekend?
“People will come and see a show that is marketed towards an all-ages crowd. It's a great benefit for the Boys & Girls Club. So, people who come to the event will know that their money is going to make a difference,” Reece says. “They will see the efforts of the Boys and Girls Club on stage. They will see where their money is going towards. They will see Hip Hop artists in the community working together and having a good time.
“They are going to see artists who have worked very hard all year long receive recognition for what they've done,” she adds. “It's going to be a well-organized event put on by people who really care about their community. They will be entertained and have a lot of fun …. I promise!”
The Urban Community Arts Network (UCAN), with support from Madison Media Institute, will present the fourth annual Madison Hip-Hop Awards (MHHA) show at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Barrymore Theater, 2090 Atwood Ave.
Tickets are currently available for $10 at the Barrymore Theater’s website — www.barrymorelive.com or can be purchased at the door. Donations for the event can also be made at the MHHA website.
For more information, visit www.MadisonHipHopAwards.com