Winter Block Party: Hip Hop Infusion

January 9, 2013

The Winter Block Party for Chicago's Hip Hop Arts strives to present a sampling of the many artistic media that have been and continue to be influenced by Hip Hop in Chicago.  Hip Hop is more than music and the Block Party is your chance to see exactly how far reaching it is as a cultural stamp.  It's one of the many reasons I love this event - every hour there is a new way of seeing how Hip Hop infuses the art and politics of Chicago.

One area that we have showcased for three of our four parties has been film.  This year not only includes an award-winning film about a Chicago tragedy but also an hour or so of some of the cutting edge visuals and mini-documentaries about the Chicago scene being created by local artists.

Neil Best of Newsday stated that Benji "packs the emotional punch you would expect of a story about the death of a high school basketball star that rocked Chicago in 1984" and that the directors "capture the sad story of Ben Wilson through effective use of archival video and compelling interviews".

This film documents the November 1984 death of Wilson, who was regarded as the best basketball player in the country, but was shot the day before his senior season of high school basketball. It details many of the cultural ripple effects of his life and death.  It's a genuinely moving and enraging film chosen specifically by Kevin Coval for inclusion in the Block Party.

Kristiana ColonA new addition by two of the founding organizations, The Public Square and Young Chicago Authors, is Hip Hop Theater.  Under the direction of Alice Kim, The Public Square reclaims public spaces to create opportunities for conversations and has presented Poetry Open Mics, a program of poets from three different generations and, this year, is featuring three theater solo artists in an afternoon presentation entitled SOLO TIP: An Exploration of Hip Hop Theater and Storytelling.

Featuring local actor and playwright Kristiana Colon, actor/performer Shannon Matesky, and Diva Goddess Deja Taylor, the program will showcase excerpts from all three women's solo theatrical performances as well as a post-show conversation with the artists exploring gender in hip hop and how a hip hop aesthetic informed, influenced and inspired their works.  As a theater guy, I'm particularly excited to see these super-talented Chicago performers give us a bit of their magic and then explain how the tricks were created.

BENJI
directed by Coodie and Chike
12:30 PM in the Upstairs Theater
First come, first served. Limited seating.

SOLO TIP: An Exploration of Hip Hop Theater and Storytelling
presented by The Public Square and YCA
3:30 PM in the Upstairs Theater
First come, first served.  Limited seating.

For more info, go to HERE.

For tickets to the evening concert, buy online here.