Mic Crenshaw continues traveling with the Caravan: a transformative experience for everyone!
In 2014 it occurred to me that some of the youth I mentor through Hip Hop education in the US should have access to this incredible opportunity.
In 2015 I invited Baqi Coles, a high school senior in Portland to participate in the Caravan. Through crowdfunding, public events and an award from the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, Baqi and I were able to tour with the Caravan in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Baqi was able to perform, write and record with African artists at every destination."
Mic Crenshaw was invited to perform at the
Breathe in Break Out Hip Hop Festival in
Halle in Germany 2015
In 2017 a compilation album was released featuring artists from Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe and the US.
Both Baqi and Mic contributed to the album while on tour with the Caravan.
and the Diaspora Sol Hip Hop Conference in Havana Cuba in 2018 (https://latinousa.org/2018/06/07/diasporasolconference/) as an ambassador
for the African Hiphop Caravan.
In 2018 Mic Crenshaw took a first year college student and Hip Hop artist named Daniel Lasuncet to Arusha and Zanzibar Tanzania to record
perform and network with artists connected to the African Hiphop Caravan.
Mic Crenshaw is currently the Youth Hip Hop Outreach Coordinator for KBOO Community Radio and mentors and teaches youth through Hip Hop education throughout Portland.
Within a couple of weeks, Micah Fletcher and I will have our new album available digitally:
"When Micah Fletcher co-founded Last of a Dying Breed with veteran Portland rapper Mic Crenshaw, he was well aware the project's attention wouldn't be limited to his dexterous lyricism.
In the summer of 2017, Fletcher was one of three men who stepped in to defend the young women targeted by Jeremy Christian's anti-Muslim rant on a MAX train, and the only one of the three to survive the stab wounds Christian inflicted. In the months after the attack, Fletcher watched comment sections unfold on local and national news stories about the incident. Some commenters claimed he was an actor deployed in a conspiracy against far-right politics, others praised his actions with such veneration that extremists from the right mockingly dubbed him "St. Fletcher."
"I'm sick of it," he says of being asked about the attack, "but I get it."
In April, Crenshaw and Fletcher released what would become their first single off of Brink of Distinction, "Paradox," a swaggering anthem with a back track of scratched records and a wobbly guitar melody supplied by one of their de facto producers, Theory Hazit."On the song's chorus, Fletcher recites: "The truth is a paradox/Revolution is a marathon." It's one of the album's many condensed bits of wisdom, and a line that was partly inspired by both MCs' confrontations with white supremacists that occured generations apart. "It's a serious reminder that things don't go away," says Crenshaw."
Fletcher is 23, Crenshaw 48. The two met in 2015 through their overlapping roles as Portland poets and rappers. Crenshaw has mentored Fletcher since then. According to Crenshaw, the cross-generational similarities between the two MCs are much more profound than an affinity for hard-hitting verses...
A semi detailed account of my journey on the 2014 Afrikan Hiphop Caravan.
Where did you go?
I started in Cape Town South Africa, then went on to Zimbabwe, Arusha Tanzania and Nairobi Kenya.
Who were you with?
I was hosted by local Hip Hop Collectives in each city.
I also traveled with an artist from Cape Town named Mkhululi Khusta Sijora from the Cape Town Collective called Soundz of the South:
SOS is one of the founding collectives of the Afrikan Hiphop Caravan (AHC) and is responsible for a significant amount of organizing and facilitation between all collectives on the Continent who participate in the Caravan. The collective is made up of various artists, organizers and Cultural Activists based in Khayelitsha, one of Cape Town’s largest Black townships. In Cape Town we visited high schools, held discussions with local students about economic justice, neo liberalism and self determination through Hip Hop, had a day of panel discussions and performances and held a free outdoor concert in the park attended by over 1,000 people.
After Cape Town we went to Harare Zimbabwe. Khusta and I flew and Karl Mics and Zanzolo who are two fellow emcees from SOS travelled by bus to meet us in Harare. In Harare as in Cape Town we did a week of engagements including shows, recording appointments at local studios where we collaborated on songs with local artists and media engagements.
The Caravan typically does a week in each city and has a tight itinerary organized by the collectives. In Harare we also did a symposium at the University of Zimbabwe where for a full day, academics, artists and activists engaged students and community members around the questions of Hip Hop being a tool for transforming consciousness and society, and whether the roots of the culture could be identified as authentically African or African American. The Collective that hosted us in Harare is the Uhuru Network. They have been engaging in Cultural Activism through Hip Hop in Zimbabwe and South Africa for over a decade. Uhuru Network is also an anchor organization and key to the organizing team of AHC. Uhuru Network and SOS have an extensive history of working together in the Southern Region of Africa and have organized numerous European Hip Hop tours to raise awareness and support for AHC. Another concert was held in Bulawayo Zimbabwe as part of the week’s events for AHC 2014.
From Harare, Khusta and I travelled to Arusha Tanzania by way of Dar Es Salaam Tanzania on an overnight flight. Once in Arusha we took a cab to our accommodations at the
The shots above are: Me at the UAACC in Tanzania outside of one of the buildings. A stage shot of the crowd in Arusha at the Hiphop Slam.
A Cape Town sunset looking toward Lion's Head. The gate of UAACC in Tanzania. Me rocking the crowd at the British Council in Nairobi, Kenya; taken by Irene of Azzurah photography. The B-boy crew at the British Council performance in Nairobi Kenya, for AHC 2014, shot by Irene of Azzurah photography.
There we were hosted by Mzee Pete O’neal and Charlotte ‘Mama C’ O’neal. These two are someof the most inspiring people I have ever met. The community center itself is in a walled compound in a small village in the beautiful countryside in the foothills of Mt. Meru about 45 minutes outside of Arusha. At the Center there were always plenty of youth who were the students and graduates the UAACC leadership academy, lots of good food and opportunities to record in the state of the art recording studio on the premises. Mama C and Brother Pete are Black Panthers who have lived as political refugees in Tanzania for over 40 years. Mama C’s contribution to the local Hip Hop scene in which she still participates is deep and well respected.
During the course of the week in Tanzania we would commute back and forth from the Center to town to work with the artists of the S.U.A. (Saving Underground Artists) Collective:https://www.facebook.com/SuaTanzania and Okoa Mtaa Foundation (Arusha, Tanzania). There was more recording, a newspaper interview and cyphering with some of the best emcees on the Continent. The show outside of Watengwa studios was one of the highlights of the tour. From about 2pm on, the crowd steadily built until dusk when it was easily about 800-1,000 people packed onto the streets and parking lot where the stage was surrounded by colorful graffiti murals. It was amazing watching the local artists captivate the crowd with powerful, humorous and engaging performances in english and Kiswahili.The last stop of AHC 2014 was in Nairobi Kenya, by far the biggest city of the tour this year. Khusta and I were hosted by Douglas Rori, a local videographer, documentary filmmaker, former emcee and Kevin Ovita Teddy, both part of the Wasanii Mtaani Artists in the Hood Collective.
The vibe in Nairobi is a quick, metropolitan pace and it felt closer to the vibe of Manhattan New York at rush hour than anywhere else I’ve been in Africa.
The British Council hosted a number of events at their facility including a youth debate with members of the Kenya National Debate Council and panel discussions about Youth Engagement, entrepreneurialism, and Hip hop and Democracy.
There was a radio interview on one of Kenya’s biggest radio stations 98.4 Capital FM and a skype conference with Native Sons a Hip Hop act from London. We performed once at the Ebony Lounge in the Central Business District and once at the British Council with local acts and a live band including members of Nairobi’s veteran Hip Hop crews, Ukoo flani Maumau and Kalamashaka. The local Hip Hop promoter and legend Buddah Blaze, largely responsible for introducing Hip Hop to Kenya booked some of our media engagements, the show at the Ebony Lounge and took us out on the town introducing us to Nairobi’s nightlife. Insanely fun and non stop. It was a fitting way to wrap up a month on the road in 4 African cities in 4 countries in 2 regions. Dynamic performances, events and new relationships that will continue to elevate the Caravan on a global stage.
What is the purpose of the AHHC? Taken from the website: hiphopcaravan.net:
The Afrikan Hiphop Caravan is an annual project organised by various Hiphop collectives to allow thousands of young people to experience Hiphop Culture at its’ finest: as an elevating form of of expression, a creative and revolutionary counterforce to all forms of oppression. Its vision is to build a strong and united Afrikan Hiphop Movement based upon a cohesive network of Afrikan Hiphop collectives with strong ties to like-minded organisations worldwide.
The participating collectives, which currently include Soundz of the South (Cape Town, South Africa), Uhuru Network (Harare, Zimbabwe), Okoa Mtaa Foundation (Arusha, Tanzania), Asrafo Records(Lome, Togo) and Wasani Mtaani (Nairobi, Kenya), are dedicated to Hiphop’s original vision as the voice of the oppressed and understand it as an acronym standing for ‘Her Infinite Power Helping Oppressed People’. In its essence, Hiphop is understood as a counterculture that has potential to educate, to build revolutionary consciousness, and to challenge the ruling class.
Thus, key aims of the project are (1) to build a sense of agency and self-empowerment among politically-conscious, community-based Hiphop artists, who often due to challenging socio-economic realities and political repression feel marginalized and isolated; (2) to transcend borders to enable artists and activists to share their skills, resources and struggle experiences; (3) to create alternative platforms for dialogue between activists, artists, academics and working-class communities.
In each city, the respective host collective organises two key events: (1) a Hiphop Slam and (2) a Hiphop Conference. While the aim of the slams is to offer a platform to cultural activists to speak about relevant issues afflicting their communities, the aim of the Conferences is to offer a unique space to scholars, artists and activists to debate the state of African Hiphop by exploring a whole range of topics, including Hiphop’s relevance to youth empowerment, identity, and political emancipation.
The 2014 Afrikan Hiphop Caravan started in Cape Town on November 7th and moved to Harare, Arusha and Nairobi.
We hope that the Afrikan Hiphop Caravan continues to grow and that in this process, cultural activists transcend the borders of Africa.
If you want to support our project, please click here(http://www.gofundme.com/afrikanhiphopcaravan)
For more information about the first Afrikan Hiphop Caravan 2013 that took place from February to March in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Harare, Nairobi and Tunis please follow the links below:
The Afrikan Hiphop Caravan Special Edition 2013
published in collaboration with the Journal of Hiphop Studies:
The Afrikan Hiphop Caravan is an annual project organised by various Hiphop collectives to allow thousands of young people to experience
Hiphop Culture at its’ finest: as an elevating form of expression, a creative and revolutionary counterforce to all forms of oppression. Its vision is to build a strong and united Afrikan Hiphop Movement based upon a cohesive network of Afrikan Hiphop collectives with strong ties to like-minded organisations worldwide.
The participating collectives, which currently include Soundz of the South (Cape Town, South Africa), Uhuru Network (Harare, Zimbabwe), Okoa Mtaa Foundation (Arusha, Tanzania), Asrafo Records (Lome,Togo)and Wasani Mtaani (Nairobi, Kenya), are dedicated to Hiphop’s original vision as the voice of the oppressed and understand it as an acronym standing for ‘Her Infinite Power Helping Oppressed People’. In its essence, Hiphop is understood as a counterculture that has potential to educate, to build revolutionary consciousness, and to challenge the ruling class.
What is important for KBOO members to know
The Caravan combines arts and culture, politics and social movements in a way that is unprecedented in Hip Hop Culture worldwide. It makes perfect sense when you think about it, the relevance and importance of this project and its connection to KBOO as a media outlet, a cultural conduit and a news organization.
Hip Hop, an artform and cultural movement created
in 1970’s New York City by African American and Afro-Latino youth becoming a global sub-culture
and making its way back to Africa to connect with
its spiritual, cultural, historical and artistic roots.
The rhythmic and oral traditions of Africa are present in the music and dance of Hip Hop Culture, in fact they are the roots of the Culture. Mic Crenshaw, Station Co-Manager is the lead organizer in the U.S for the Afrikan Hiphop Caravan and has participated in the first Caravan in 2013 and the 2nd tour in November of 2014.
For Mic this is a culmination of his life’s work as an activist and independent Hip Hop artist making conscious music that speaks to the struggles for human liberation and the liberation of African people globally. This project allows Crenshaw, Portland and the United States and KBOO to engage in a level of international cultural exchange that is crucial in these times of instability, socially engineered ignorance, growing economic disparities and xenophobia compounded by the mass consolidation of media and information outlets.
With the historic and ongoing listenership loyal to our World Music, African, Urban and Hip Hop programming, KBOO’s support and involvement with the Afrikan Hiop Hop Caravan is a unique opportunity the potential of which is already manifesting but not fully developed. Mic’s highest aspiration for the Caravan is to have it be a platform for international cultural exchange which brings artists from Africa to the U.S. and further supports younger up and coming artists from Portland and elsewhere in the States to visit African countries.
KBOO will benefit greatly, our listeners, members, supporters will be able to experience the sights, sounds and consciousness that is developing through the Caravan’s impact.
It was recorded at the UAACC; United African Alliance Community Center outside of Arusha Tanznia. http://www.uaacc.habari.co.tz/
Mic Crenshaw, Portland OR., U.S.
Khusta, Cape Town, South Africa.
Diwi, Arusha Tanzania, beat production and emcee.
Emodizzo, Ausha Tanzania, beat production and emcee.
Ima Maasai, Arusha Tanzania.
Mama C, Arusha Tanzania.
Guim, Canada on the flute.
Here's some rough info about the song:
The verses are performed in Xhosa by Khusta (South Africa), Kiswahili by Emodizzo and Diwi and in Maasai by Ima Maasai who sings the hook and English (with some Kiswahili from Mama C) by Mamac C and Mic Crenshaw.
Mama C says of the piece:
I dig the way Diwi keeps urging Africans to 'return home!' in Kiswahili. Diwi is something of a legend in the hip hop community. He’s known for his freestyle fire and beat boxing and he is well known as a producer also. While Emodizzo is new on the scene but making his mark! Ima Maasai is becoming known for his innovative style that utilizes both traditional instruments and Maasai language and song. All these dudes are very creative and I love jammin’ with them…especially free style/improv. Ima Maasai, Diwi and I are all members of Wakunga Zamani that does experimental music with African/Jazz/Blues singing and instruments and fuses it all with hip hop!
Also the flutist on the track is Guim, a French speaking Canadian musician who was here as an intern for several weeks. He taught basic/elementary French to our students and children. He is also a bassist (guitar and double bass).
Will there be more music coming from AHHC?
In the months to come, there will be more releases from the network of artists that participate in the Caravan and the music recorded on AHC 2014 featuring Mic Crenshaw and artists from South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Where will folks be able to find/buy it?
For now this song is an exclusive release, the first recorded song from the Afrkan Hiphop Caravan 2014 to be released. KBOO supporters and members will be the first to have a copy of it!!!!!!
Why should folks give to KBOO right now?
People should give to KBOO to support the efforts of the organizers of this project in their aim to bring quality Afrikan Hiphop to a global audience and continue to gain exposure and awareness of our interconnectivity with people worldwide and in the communities in the cities and countries and villages of Africa.
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