Band: Alabama Hip-Hop Week
Date: July 8-14
Venues: For more info, visit alabamahiphopweek.com
Tickets: For more info, visit alabamahiphopweek.com
With each passing year, Alabama Hip-Hop Week builds upon its extensive legacy. Twelve years ago, Kalenski “DJ Dirty Dan” Adams (aka The Dirty Guy) created Alabama Hip-Hop Week as a means of promoting and nourishing the statewide hip-hop scene. In addition to industry panels and performances from homegrown artists, Alabama Hip-Hop Week also holds a yearly “Urban Summit” to address issues in the community as well as provide guidance to up-and-coming hip-hop artists. 2019 has been a year of growth for Alabama Hip-Hop Week.
This year, Alabama Hip-Hop Week will expand into every major city in Alabama. This event will also be a major part of the MOB Music Fest. When Lagniappe caught up with Adams, this influential figure in the statewide hip-hop scene was excited to talk about Alabama Hip-Hop Week and the state of the scene, both past and present.
Centanni: How would you compare the Alabama hip-hop scene now to when you started Alabama Hip-Hop Week?
Adams: Man, Steve, when I started Alabama Hip-Hop Week 12 years ago, it was known as “Dirty Guy Week.” I had the inspiration as a young artist to create a platform for other young artists to learn more about copyright, publishing and everything like that. Twelve years later, Hip-Hop Week and just the music scene overall throughout the state is at an all-time high.
We have so many artists who are getting signed and so many who are national artists. You’ve got Yung Bleu to Rylo Rodriguez to NoCap to OMB Peezy. That’s just talking about Mobile. You’ve got artists like Venus from Birmingham. I also have to send a shout-out to Bianca Clarke, who is a female artist on the rise. These young kids and this new generation are setting a precedent for making Alabama the new hot spot for the music scene and music industry.
Centanni: Alabama Hip-Hop Week has grown so much over the years. What has allowed it flourish like it has?
Adams: I would say that it’s the community and networking. Over the years, we’ve had an opportunity to build up a community and teach people how to be a part of the culture and be a part of hip-hop and everything that’s going on as we have grown our scene. With Alabama Hip-Hop Week itself, we’re more than just the music. We’re in the community and talking to the kids and doing outreach and getting them geared up and talking about the different things that they face in the community. That’s what makes us different as a festival. It’s a complete week of community outreach.
Centanni: With that said, the Urban Summit has always been a big part of Alabama Hip-Hop Week. What will this year’s Urban Summit be like?
Adams: This year, we’ve expanded. I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be going on a statewide tour for the first time in 12 years. We’ll be kicking off Alabama Hip-Hop Week in Birmingham at A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club. On Tuesday, July 9, we’ll be at the Seminole Boys & Girls Club in Huntsville. July 10, we’ll be at the WestEnd Boys & Girls Club in Montgomery. On Thursday, we’ll be in Mobile at the James Seals Community Center at the Texas Street park. We’ll be talking to the kids about everything from gun violence to bullying to social media and connecting with them during these months when school is out. We’re getting them ready for that new year with opportunity and education.
Centanni: It hasn’t been that long ago that we were talking, and you were making plans to take this into new cities. What’s it been like taking this to every major city in Alabama?
Adams: For us, it was mostly about making sure that we got the players from these communities. I can’t walk in there and be like, “Hey, I’m Dirty Dan. You have to listen what I say.”
I had to grab the people and the players from those communities and get them involved. So, I had the chance to build relationships with DJs and tastemakers and artists and community leaders throughout these cities and brought them together, so we can do stuff in their community in the name of the culture of Alabama hip-hop. Hip-hop is the tool to bring them together. When we get there, we had to educate them on all the things that they need to know about. We connected the dots of I-65 this year. For the first time, our statewide tour is an opportunity to walk into these places and introduce this program that we’ve been doing in Mobile for the past 12 years.
Centanni: What’s the biggest challenge of going into these new areas?
Adams: Support is the main thing. We’re teaching people to be a part of this. When you think about hip-hop music, it always has a negative connotation to it. It’s more than just about the music. It’s the culture and the dancers and the people who paint and do spoken word. It’s everything that you love about the culture. At the end of the day, it’s about supporting and understanding what we do overall. The biggest challenge is getting people to come out and say, “Hey, what is this?” It’s about community outreach and giving the artists and culture exposure.
Centanni: As far as all the events that you have planned, what are you looking forward to this most?
Adams: I’m looking forward to two things: I’m looking forward to the Urban Summits across the state and the community outreach. I’m also looking forward to DJ Dirty Dan Day. Three years ago, Mayor [Sandy] Stimpson gave me the key to the city for empowering people and promoting the music scene over the years. On our 10-year celebration of Alabama Hip-Hop Week, they came out and gave me my own day, which is Kalenski Adams Day aka DJ Dirty Dan Day. We’ll celebrate the overall accomplishment of creating something from scratch and continuing to build on it.
Everything I do from year to year is seen as day one. That’s my approach. On that last day, we climax. On Sunday, July 14, we’ll be at Halftime Sports Bar & Grill with a car and bike show to wrap up the nightlife of Alabama Hip-Hop Week. In this area where we’re at, we have to create the activity, and that’s what we’ve been doing.
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