My Life in Hip Hop

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Although my time on this planet has been brief in the grand scheme of things, it has been longer than some who I traveled with before. My adult life has been a mix of highs and lows, like anyone else, more or less. I’ve had successes and failures both of epic proportions in my mind, but still lived through it up til now. Sometimes I didn’t give a damn and said “fuck it.” Most of the time however, I like to believe I did the best I could with what I had. The biggest thing I tried to do thus far was add on to the cypher in my circle of influence. That’s all any of us can do in the end anyway isn’t it? In fact, what our individual contribution means in the end we may never know. But, one thing I do know from studying True School Hip Hop, is that we can and must create ourselves. Hip Hop is about identifying yourself to the World and truly being that to the utmost of your ability and skill. It’s about telling your own story instead of history defining you by a statistic or a mainstream stereotype. In Hip Hop, we define ourselves, which is why so many of my friends will only be known to me by their ‘street’ or Hip Hop names, not their government names. Most times I think its better that way, even if just for plausible deniability.

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As a First Generation Hiphoppa, I know that the lessons we learned will not truly be understood until we are gone from this Earth. Only then will people be able to look back and see the true power in what we created with Hip Hop. Hip Hop as a culture has transformed the World. Almost everyone is just a little more Hip Hop responsive within society because of the daily influences coming through electronic information networks. The internet allows people to share not just the dummy-man realities of pop-trap rap, but more importantly, the essence of True School elements too. B-boyin’, beatboxin’ and deejayin’ are highly praised skills around the Globe that attract millions of supporters internationally. Hip Hop Kulture helped create the reality we all live in now. Still, I remember a time when Hip Hop was mocked and slept on by most people. There was a time when people felt Hip Hop was just a music fad or an entertainment trend. Instead, it became a way of life for many people, including myself.

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Hip Hop allowed me to travel in some of the most creative circles of inspiration and original thought I have personally born witness to. For that reason, among others, I’ve always tried to give back positive inspiration to people. The worth of what I’d created during my life confronted me in a strange way in 2012. During Hurricane Sandy, record-breaking floods devastated parts of my state (NJ) and left us without power in my area for almost two weeks. At that time, my whole life’s work (or at least the original copies of it) was in a basement in Plainfield NJ. Luckily, the flooding wasn’t as bad for me as it was for others and the majority of the tapes and promotional material was protected in those big, plastic tubs you get from Walmart. It still shook me in a way though. I realized everything I had done and put away for later could have been washed away in one night. Around that time, I started to figure out how material like mine, could be saved for future generations to gain inspiration from, or at least, survive for the historical record.

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Since, 2013, I have been in contact with the Director of local history and genealogy in my area and we came up with a solution. This year, I have agreed to donate a portion of my collection to the Plainfield Public Library in order to start a Hip Hop Archive. This archive will serve as a resource for students, researchers and journalists to study artifacts and material from the culture. This week, I began installing the first of several displays which will be on exhibit to the public through the summer of 2016. I will have many more details in the weeks to come, announcing the dates for live discussion groups and exclusive video presentations. I will also give out more information about how you can participate in our official opening on Saturday, May 21st. Stay tuned for more details.
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Kurt Nice

Kurt Nice aka Kurtiss Jackson is a behind the scenes pioneer in the Hip Hop Kulture, creating the first nationally distributed video mix tape series, Shades of Hip Hop, in the late 1990s. Since touring the country with the Stop the Violence Movement and the Temple of Hip Hop as KRS-ONE’s National Marketing Director, Kurt Nice has been a constant commentator on conscious Hip Hop and its relevance to the new rap music of today, through radio and cable appearances. contact Kurt at info@hiphoplives.net

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