On Saturday, Monk Matthaeus co-hosts the family-friendly One Peace Hip Hop Festival at a Grand Rapids park to mark the genre’s 50th birthday. Today, he tells his hip-hop story, in his own words.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Local Spins Musicians’ Soundboard gives a voice and a platform to Michigan musicians and those involved in the region’s music scene. Today, Monk Matthaeus takes his turn as fans and performers prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip hop. Mattheaus is co-founder and vice president of the Hip Hop Association of Advancement and Education. Along with Edwin Anderson, he’s also organizer of Saturday’s family-oriented One Peace Hip Hop Festival at Martin Luther King Park in Grand Rapids. Scroll down for the full festival schedule and details.
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
After 50 revolutions around the sun, this youth “fad” that so many thought would disappear has not only stood the test of time, but has shaped our global collective consciousness.
What came to be called “Hip-Hop Culture” has influenced music, dance, art, politics, marketing and product development, and is even making its way into the 2024 Olympics.
Hip hop saved my life.
this is a phrase uttered by seasoned hiphoppas all over the world. For so many, hip hop has been a therapeutic outlet for expression as well as an identity that unites people from all walks of life.
As a nearly 50-year old hiphoppa who is active in three of the four core artistic elements of the culture, I can say that I’ve seen and experienced a lot — from the original core philosophy of peace, unity, love and having fun to the commoditization of the music by outsiders and the influence that record companies and media have had on messaging and cultural authenticity.
When lived authentically and fully through all the elements (not just rap), hip hop can have such a positive influence on people.
But when young artists are exploited and the message is co-opted to serve the pop culture money-making machine run by corporate America, hip hop can become destructive, misogynistic, violence glorifying and the like.
This is why the Hip Hop Association of Advancement and Education exists. The HHAAE connects and supports hip-hop scholars, educators, advocates and practitioners who use hip hop to empower their communities.
HHAAE provides a platform for scholars, educators, advocates and practitioners to collaborate on local and global initiatives, publications and artistic projects and provides tangible and informational support to individuals, organizations and institutions.
So 50 years later, we keep on pushing forward with a message of positivity, growth, peace, unity and love.
The true hiphoppa lives the mantra: “Can’t stop, won’t stop.” Onward.
ONE PEACE HIP HOP FESTIVAL
When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 12)
Where: Martin Luther King Park, Grand Rapids
What: The all-ages, family-friendly festival focuses on hip hop, health, wellness, business advocacy, sports and education. The event includes DJs, soccer, a three-on-three basketball tournament, 5K run/walk, health screenings, life graffiti artists, breakdance cyphers and more.
SUNDAY: ONE OF ONE MIDWEST BREAKIN’ BATTLE
When: Noon-3 p.m. (Prelims at noon; main event at 2:30 p.m.)
Where: Paul I Phillips, 720 Madison Ave. SE, Grand Rapids
What: Boys and girls showcasing their skill on the dance floor, with a $2,000 prize for the winner. Djs: Soulrane and Snax. Judges: Bgirl Pep-C, Bravemonk, Profowon.
Admission: $15 adults, $5 12 and younger; $20 entry fee for dancers
MONK MATTHAEUS: My Top Hip Hop Inspirations
1. The era of boom bap greatness, sometimes called “the golden era” of rap. Roughly 1985-1995. The creativity was unmatched and it was an era of crews with DJs.
2. The philosophy of the Universal Zulu Nation. Peace, unity, love and having fun. Knowledge, wisdom and overstanding.
3. Scratch DJs and turntablism. True hip-hop deejaying.
4. Breakin’. The bboys and bgirls are the anchor of the culture in my opinion. The energy of the dance that is fueled by the music, the vibe and the DJ.
5. The “f@&$ pop culture” attitude the authentic hip hop conveys. True hip hop is lived. It’s a culture. Rap is not Hip Hop. It’s a part of Hip Hop.
6. Graffiti. I love what graffiti writers stand for. They force you to see them. “Look at me! I exist!” “You will know my name whether you like it or not”
Copyright 2023, Spins on Music LLC