Chicago Hip-Hop Initiative become US Cultural Envoys and spent 2-weeks in the West African nation of Cote d'Ivoire touring seven regions and sharing the positive and progressive elements of hip-hop.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime to visit Cote d’Ivoire for a cultural exchange representing and sharing one of the most influential dialects of our generation-‘Hip-Hop’. With hip-hop arts, music, and culture as our vehicle, “Coolout” Chris Hawkins (Producer/DJ/Beatbox/Emcee), Angela “Ang 13” Zone (Emcee/Graffiti Artist/B-Girl), and I, “Amina” Norman-Hawkins (Emcee/Activist/Community Organizer), spent 2 weeks touring Cote d’Ivoire (as the collective: “Chicago Hip-Hop Initiative”) on a cultural exchange with artists and young people throughout 7 regions. We shared some of the many ways we use hip-hop in the United States, and especially in Chicago, for more than just entertainment. In each town we presented workshops, which included short components on the topics of:
*The elements/aesthetics of hip-hop (music/oratory/visual arts/dance)
*Hip-hop for social change & community activism
*The business and entrepreneurship of hip-hop
*Hip-hop as a tool for individual empowerment, and
*Hip-hop as a means of peace, tolerance, and unity
Each workshop also included a hands-on experience in graffiti arts, and one-on-one recording sessions, as well as open discussions on hip-hop in Cote d’Ivoire and the US. We also headlined a concert in each region, which always included opening performances by local artists.