Chicago Voices Talk | Hip-Hop: How the City Inspires the Sound
Chicago has embraced an eclectic mix of regional East Coast, West Coast, and Southern hip-hop styles, but it has always been inspired by the everyday realities and histories of the city. Following the success of artists like Common, Twista, and Kanye West, a new sound was formed in Chicago paving the way for socially-conscious rappers like Lupe Fiasco and Rhymefest.
Join us to examine Chicago’s impact on hip-hop and how the city affects today’s music. Panelists include hip-hop performer and activist Amina Norman-Hawkins and rapper Add-2.
Chicago Voices explores Chicago’s rich vocal history and its contributions to gospel, classical, and hip-hop music. Ayana Contreras, WBEZ contributor, and host of Vocalo’s Reclaimed Soul, moderates a panel series that features music experts and dynamic live performances. Each event includes a panel discussion, performance interludes by Chicago artists, and a Q&A session.
Additional price: $5 students.
A creative and talkative child, Amina grew up in her father’s homeland of Nigeria where she and her family moved shortly after her seventh birthday. “We didn’t have that much over there at that time so I missed a whole lot of early hip-hop,” she explains, “…but in retrospect, I consider myself lucky to have had influences of not just Nigerian musicians like Fela and Sunny Ade but also American artists like The Spinners, Roberta Flack, Miles Davis, and so many others were influences for me, because my mom played it all!” She admits, “So, with roots like that, it’s no wonder I became hip-hop!”
Amina is now an internationally recognized voice of grassroots hip-hop activism. She is a writer, performing artist, filmmaker, and hip-hop practitioner who has spent the past twenty years involved in the preservation of Chicago’s hip-hop culture and community. Amina is founder of Chicago Hip-Hop Initiative, a hip-hop community empowerment collaborative; and Co-Founder of Chicago Hip-Hop Heritage Month, an officially recognized annual observance (since 2003) that celebrates Chicago’s local hip-hop arts and community throughout the entire month of July. She’s also a respected emcee, poet, and founding member of Urbanized Music, a production duo of Amina & Coolout Chris, and collective of Chicago-based true school artists who’ve performed internationally promoting the aesthetics of hip-hop culture over media hype.
Amina has sat on panels alongside Gloria Steinem, Fat Joe, Dr. Carol Adams, Billy Wimsatt, DMC, Bakari Kitwana, WaterFlow, Dres, Harry Allen, Jeff Chang, Joan Morgan, among many other activists, entertainers, and academics. She has taken part in Hip-Hop Theater Festival (MCA, Chicago), Taking It To The Streets (Chicago), Campus Progress National Student Conference (Washington, DC), Antioch College Hip-Hop Convergence (Yellow Springs, OH), SLUM Fest (Saint Louis), and Remixing The Art Of Social Change, (Chicago). She has performed at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Chicago Cultural Center, The Vic, Double Door, Joe’s and a host of nightclubs and performance venues.
Selected in 2010 to serve as a United States Cultural Envoy, Amina spent two weeks leading a team of three hip-hop artists from Chicago as they toured seven regions in the West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire. They performed, conducted workshops, met local artists and helped foster an understanding of American culture while encouraging young people to use hip-hop progressively. This assignment was chronicled in the independently produced documentary Keep It Moving to Côte d’Ivoire (April ‘11), which premiered to much acclaim in the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival. The exchange gave birth to the creation of the Côte d’Ivoire Hip-Hop Initiative, a registered NGO, committed to the same as their sister group in Chicago. Amina currently teaches a course on hip-hop history at Columbia College Chicago. She also lectures, writes, and performs hip-hop, and spoken word around the country.
Add-2 has been captivating listeners and tastemakers’ ears and imaginations with his unique blend of hip-hop, soul, and jazz. From his acrobatic wordplay, detailed storytelling, and no-holds-barred social commentary; Add-2 has emerged as a respected voice of clarity in the midst of the noise in a chaotic world.
From being on MTV2, MTVU, FUSE, HOT97, Shade 45, and EBONY, he is currently sponsored by major clothing company LRG. He has performed alongside legendary hip-hop band The Roots, featured on songs with Talib Kweli, BJ The Chicago Kid, and is one of both Kadeem Hardison and Common’s favorite new emcees:
“With artists like Add-2, he is somebody who seems like he really cares about the culture and cares about uplifting people, and that’s inspirational to see, I get inspired by people that do that. No matter what age you are, where you’re from, when you’re really trying to do something good, I see that and I’m like, ‘man…’ It’s a good reminder of what I should be doing.” – Common
Add-2 grew up on Chicago’s South Side surrounded by many harsh realities at an early age from gang violence, drug use, and poverty. Born the second of three kids, Add-2 found refuge in his writing determined not to suffer the mistakes of his friends and peers. In song Add-2 began telling his story; a story that he felt wasn’t told often but was desperately needed: a story about survival.
Add-2 has released several critically acclaimed projects such as “Save.Our.Souls,” “More Missed Calls,” “Between Heaven And Hell,” and “Prey For The Poor.” In 2016 he created Haven Studio which is a free music mentoring program that gives teens on the South Side of Chicago a positive outlet to express themselves creatively. Add-2 continues to use his voice and his platform to change the world around him.
Chicago Voices TALK is made possible by support from J. Thomas Hurvis, Parent Power Chicago, and Bank of America. The series is part of the Lyric’s Chicago Voices, a groundbreaking multiyear initiative celebrating the city’s vibrant, diverse vocal music culture.
Chicago History MuseumPurchase Tickets