There are many reasons why the Universal Hip-Hop Parade should be celebrated in the community. One reason is to celebrate the growing influence and power of Hip-Hop culture as a unifying force among various cultures. Rap music, which is an original element of hip-hop culture, is popular in Brazil, Cuba, France, Ghana, Israel, Japan and South Africa and the world over! Recently artists have performed in Syria encouraging peace and understanding after the recent war in Iraq. Graffiti writings expressing the views of young adults are seen all over the world. Hip-hop fashion is popular wherever the clothing is exposed to the people.
Another reason for having the parade is to encourage business and entrepreneurship in the community as the economy worsens! Hip-hop culture is a major marketing force for many fortune 500 companies and businesspersons such as Russell Simmons, Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, Sean “Jay-Z” Carter and many others are at the cutting edge of building multiple businesses that employ and inspire a generation. On a smaller scale many people make a living from hip-hop by selling products such as mix-tapes & clothing or by promoting cultural events. Part of the vision for the parade is for this entrepreneurial spirit to manifest during the parade along the parade route! Yet another reason for having the Universal Hip-Hop Parade is to make a political statement. As the youthful hip-hop culture matures it is time for the members to define issues from their own perspective and to mobilize to demonstrate the seriousness of their convictions. The parade always has a theme that is empowering & uplifting in the spirit of Marcus Garvey. Past themes have been “Academic Excellence & Social Responsibility”, “Education & Entrepreneurship” and “Celebrate Hip-Hop Activism” over the past three years. The theme for this year’s parade is “Self-Determination”!
The parade acknowledges the historical legacy of the culture. The four original elements are: DJ-ing, MC-ing, graffiti & B-boying (dance). These elements have been and will be displayed again during the parade procession. Living legends that represent these elements such as DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Caz, James Top & Pee Wee Dance have been involved with the development of the parade over the last three years. The UHHP also embraces new ideas and styles within the culture. Since the early 1980’s the culture has expanded into fashion, film/video, advertising, comedy, spoken word, education & technology. These various disciplines and trends are also welcome to be displayed in the moving audio/video showcase that the parade is. The “Universal Hip-Hop Parade” is intended to empower the community by peacefully gathering together the various elements, businesses, artists, activists, celebrities and organizations to acknowledge the positive impact that Hip-Hop is having on the planet.
The legacy of Marcus Garvey was the original inspiration for Kazembe and the Universal Nubian Association to organize the parade. That is why the parade is always held on the Saturday on or before the birthday of Marcus Garvey, which is August 17th! Marcus is a worthy person for the parade to be in honor of for many reasons. Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association held annual parades in Harlem from 1919 until the late 1920’s as a way to develop pride in African people. Garvey encouraged cultural creativity in the Universal Negro Improvement Association and many artists were members of the UNIA. Garvey, himself was a poet and a playwright. Marcus was also a businessman. He founded the Negro World newspaper and the Black Star Line steamship operation as well as many smaller businesses. One of the most appealing aspects of hip-hop culture to young adults is the chance to emulate the many artists who have successfully turned their creative talents into “putting food on the table” by creating jobs and ownership!
As a leading Pan-Africanist, Garvey emphasized respect for Black culture and history. Part of the UHHP’s mission is to ensure that the Black/African root of Hip-hop culture is not forgotten as the culture expands and diversifies around the globe. This has happened with Jazz and Rock & Roll music forms! The first “Universal Hip-Hop Parade” was held on Saturday, August 11th, 2000. The parade route was from the intersection of Fulton Street and Marcy Avenue to Von King Park where the first “Upliftment Showcase” was held. The parade was led off by the “OG” Victor McCray’s red sound truck and followed by the Sharptones, a youth stepping group, a Bed-Stuy voluntary ambulance, and 50 marchers carrying Red/Black/Green flags and rappers posters. Professor X was the Grand Marshal. During the “Upliftment Showcase” Pitch Black, Channel Live, Ayani Sonyi, and others performed. Presentations about education and police brutality were made by educator Curtis “Tut” Lawrence and activist Charles Barron. Giveaways included Tee shirts, CD’s, posters and magazines. Rawkus Records, Vibe Magazine and the Universal Nubian Association were the sponsors of the giveaways. Vanguard Urban Improvement Association provided crucial support. Over 50 new voters were registered at the information tables.
The second “Universal Hip-Hop Parade” was held on Saturday August 12th, 2001. The parade route was from the intersection of Marcus Garvey Blvd. and Decatur Street to the intersection of Fulton Street and Marcy Avenue. Once again the parade was led by “OG” Victor McCray’s red sound truck and followed by many large graffiti banners, 6 decorated cars, 120 marchers carrying various signs. Graffiti legend James Top was the Grand Marshall. The Upliftment Showcase featured Freedom Williams, Little Egypt, Luqmaan ShaDagga and local talent performed. Then City-council member Annette Robinson, Hip-Hop pioneer Tony Crush and Minister Kevin Muhammad of the Nation of Islam spoke encouraging words to the crowd. Tee shirts, hot food, CD’s and magazines were provided by Vibe Magazine, Birdel’s Records, Rawkus Records and the Universal Nubian Association. Assemblyman Al Vann and City Council member Annette Robinson provided financial support. Eighty-five people registered to vote during the parade and showcase!
The third “Universl Hip-Hop Parade” was held on Saturday, August 17th, 2002. The parade route was from the intersection of Gates Avenue and Marcus Garvey Blvd. to the intersection of Fulton Street and Marcy Avenue. The parade was lead by the Universal Nubian Association and a delegation of Palestinian peace activists. Followed by 150 marchers carrying banners, 15 decorated promotional vehicles, a Power 105.1 van, an Ecko Unltd. van, a Def Jam van, a Posse Pops ice cream truck, a long Top Class Limousine for the grand marshal, freestyle artist Supernatural, and a large sound-truck which had various local artists performing on it! Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilperson James Davis attended made appearances. At the end of the parade a rally was held where solidarity with the Millions for Reparations Rally in Washington DC was expressed by Kazembe and Supernatural ripped the microphone with freestyle lyrics.
Bed-Stuy is the home of the Universal Hip-Hop Parade for many reasons. The neighborhood has produced many Hip-Hop legends such as Fab Five Freddy, Big Daddy Kane, Little Kim, Chris Rock, James Top, Fabolous & Biggie Smalls. The only street in NYC named after Marcus Garvey is in Bed-Stuy. It is time for Brooklyn to show its hospitality and welcome people from all over to one of its historical communities, Bedford Stuyvesant. Hip-Hop culture is global and the parade could be held anywhere on the planet. The “Universal Hip-Hop Parade” has the potential to become a major summer attraction in Central Brooklyn! As Bed-Stuy continues to grow, new celebrations and institutions are needed to reflect the contemporary and historical cultural values of the community. Having a successful “Universal Hip-Hop Parade 2003” will contribute to the economic and social well being of Brooklyn. Community based organizations, independent labels, local businesses, uprockers, graffiti artists & others have responded to the call to participate. The “UHHP 2003 Organizing Committee” encourages you and your family to make plans to attend this year’s parade.
Jeffery Kazembe Batts, President Universal Hip-Hop Parade Foundation, Inc.
For More Information call (347) 232-6148 or (917) 559-4758
firstname.lastname@example.org • ©2003 Universal Hip-Hop Foundation, Inc
NUBIAN ARTS Vol.1