Chance Weidman grew up in Bertshuber in the late 1990s and 2000s, and like many kids of that era, hip-hop was a formative influence.
He listened to Tupac and Dr. Dre (although he admits he might have been a little younger for them), then Lil Wayne and Jay-Z. But his fascination goes beyond beats and rhymes.
“Hip-hop culture, the way people spoke, the way they dressed, the music we were listening to, it was just hip-hop culture,” Weidman said. Quoting the title of DJ Semtex’s 2016 book, “Hip-Hop Raised Me,” Weidman says hip-hop “really helped me through my high school years.”
Now as director of the Equity and Inclusion Program at the University of Pittsburgh, Weidman acknowledges that “This Thing We Call Hip Hop” now impacts multiple generations.
Free program commemorating the 50th anniversaryth Hip Hop Anniversary, hosted by 1Hood Media, will take place on Thursday, June 15th at 1Hood’s Blaxk Box Theater in Auckland. Five panelists, led by moderator Shantel Petersen, explore the influence hip-hop has had on Pittsburgh and the local contribution to the culture. (Stars like Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller are also likely to be named.)
“We really hope that we can have a really solid conversation to unlock what hip-hop means to Pittsburgh,” Weidman said.
Unlike many cultural movements, hip-hop certainly has a fairly specific date and place of birth. That was when he block his party DJ in the Bronx in the summer of 1973, laying the groundwork for a culture that included rap, turntable skills, breakdancing and graffiti his art. Years passed before the first hip-hop record was released, and its music and style long ago became mainstream and global.
Panelists for the June 15th event span generations, led by Paradise Grey. His hip-hop roots extend back to his late 70s in the South Bronx where he grew up. Gray was then a major talent in early hip-hop, where he was manager, booking his agent, producer, and is now known as an important historian of hip-hop culture.
Other attendees included young Pittsburgh-based rappers Hardo, Fed the God, Special K, and Pittsburgh’s “Rap Principal” Margaret Starks.
Petersen, also known as PopChanny, is a local journalist and event organizer. She said she wanted the event to convey that hip-hop has changed a lot but continues to function as a culture of its own.
“I wear different clothes now, I wear different jewelry, but it’s still the same hip-hop,” she said. “It’s still music, it’s still fashion, it’s still art, it’s still expression, it’s still storytelling, all those positive things.”
“This Thing Called Hip Hop” takes place on Thursday, June 15th at 7pm. The Black Box Theater is located at 460 Melwood Ave. Pre-registration is recommended. Learn more about.