August 12, 2005

San Diego Unity Jam

By Luis Alonso Pérez

Since its conception, true Hip Hop has always been about bringing communities together, to create, to perform, to reflect or simply to have a good time while spinning some records.

And that’s exactly what the first annual San Diego Unity Jam was all about: putting aside differences and bringing together mixers, rappers, breakers and writers under a hot San Diego sun. From Oceanside to Tijuana, a city turned into one big crew, in a two day all-ages event.

“The scene in San Diego is really split up, so all of us came together, and we created a big annual jam” said Brian Lagemann, one of the organizers. “We used to have the B-boy Summit here in, but the city didn’t agree with the crowd that it brought. Same thing happened with the Freestyle Sessions, they all got moved out of San Diego, so this is one more jam we want to bring up and keep here”.

One of the main reasons people are bothered with this type of events it’s because of the way hip hop is portrayed in mass media. “I think there’s a negative path that a lot of the youth are taking towards rap music” said Lagemann “so parents see that, and they think that it’s all about the jewelry, the drinking and that kind of stuff. But that’s not what hip hop is about at all”.

“What we tried to do is bring back the hip hop culture to the daytime” said Lagemann. “The problem is that these types of events are always in clubs at night, which means lot of the young people can’t see the culture, so we put together a free daytime event”.

The San Diego Unity Jam began on noon Saturday August 6th at The Writerz Blok, with discussion panels about the past, present and future of San Diego hip hop, including a DJ, MC (rappers), graffiti and B-boy/B-girl (breakdancers) panels and a special media panel, with guests from local magazines, radio and television stations.

After the panels, the event continued just down the block, at the Tubman-Chavez cultural center with performances by local DJs, MCs and B-boys. On Sunday, everybody returned to The Writerz Blok, for a whole day of live DJ’s, Live Graffiti, and Skate Board demonstrations.

One of the main goals of the Unity Jam was to bring everybody together in spite of their discipline, style or neighborhood, and generate some resourceful networking among crews.

“What we need is for people to come together, unite and learn from each other” Said master muralist Chor Boogie. “All of that competition, people thinking they’re better than each other, all of that ego-pride thing has got to go”.

Another important goal for this event was educating the new generations about the history of the hip hop movement in San Diego, so they can learn about artists, crews, individuals, and important places that have contributed to its history.

“What we want to do is bring hip hop back into the culture” said Brian Lagemann. “Our generation is in the thirties and forties now, so we are the last ones, we got to be able to pass something positive from our hip hop culture. We want to teach them our art forms and show youth what we did through hip hop after all of those years of struggling”.

It’s very clear that real hip hop is not what music videos portray, and the San Diego Unity Jam was a way of reaching out to the community and showing them that there’s much more to hip hop if we focus on the positive aspects, learn from each other and unite.

If you like to know more about the San Diego Unity Jam or want to watch the event’s photo gallery visit their web site

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