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Hip-hop is used to sell everything from candy bars to luxury cars. It’s featured in educational videos, Christian music, kids songs and dance competitions.
“We’re at a point in the culture where hip-hop’s pretty much unavoidable,” said local hip-hop artist Rob “Rob Dz” Franklin. “It’s in baby commercials. It’s pretty much everywhere.”
But in Madison, hip-hop is still an outlier. Blamed over the years for inciting fights, gang activity, riots, gunfire and all manner of intoxicated misbehavior, the stigma has deepened the city’s racial divide and created a desert as venues for the music have all but dried up.
A Madison artist is teaming up with researchers to challenge beliefs about the connection between hip-hop and violence at local music venues.
“It’s difficult to fight when it’s this unfounded thing that everybody believes in,” Pacal Bayley says of the notion that hip-hop performances lead to violence.
Better known at DJ Pain 1, producer Bayley is well-known in the Madison hip-hop scene – which he says loses ground when venues don’t welcome the local artists attempting to grow their fan base in Madison.
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Hip-hop is a burgeoning art form, some say the fastest-growing on the planet. It emerged from the street corners of New York City a little less than four decades ago and now permeates global culture.
Two leaders in Madison hip-hop circles, Karen Reece and ShaH Evans, were among a group that co-founded the Urban Community Arts Network seven years ago with the goal of using hip-hop for empowerment and education.