To be completely honest, I missed the bulk of the discussion at ‘Hip Hop at Hermann’s: Pop, Power, Protest’, hosted by the United States Studies Society, because I arrived towards the end of the event, expecting a party, not a forum.
Going off the Facebook event, I had anticipated more dancing than discussion – which isn’t to say the two are mutually exclusive – but perhaps the attendance would have been different had the event been marketed more accurately.
In saying that, attendance was still very good. Hermann’s looked comfortably full with an audience engaged in discussing a plethora of topics, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, anti-colonialism, what hip hop meant to them and what issues they thought Australian hip hop should be addressing more. Common themes brought up in relation to the latter included the inhumane treatment of refugees and the pervasive racism that continues to be downplayed and ignored in our society. Many attendees mentioned they thought Australian hip hop needed to start engaging more with issues faced by Indigenous Australians and the colonial past that marks the bulk of our racist institutions today.
At this point, it might be prudent to draw your attention to Indigenous hip hop artists who are actually addressing racism in Australia. Because they don’t get the attention they deserve, you have likely never heard of them before. So do yourself a favour today and check out Jimblah and Lady Lash to expand your intake of hip hop from what it currently sits at (probably track 6 of To Pimp a Butterfly, or one quarter of The Life of Pablo).
I asked members of the audience what they thought of the event. Fahad Ali said, “The speakers were good and it was a brilliant intellectual discussion but it ain’t a party”.
As the discussion wrapped up – closing on a note about the bar tab still being open for another 20 minutes – people mingled around and pondered the issues that were brought up over the past two hours, and where to go from here.
While no one else saw it fitting to start dancing, props to the group of three people who did take it upon themselves to start their own, albeit small, dance floor in the back corner of the room. They were clearly as confused as I was as to the purpose of the event, but that didn’t stop them from dancing as though it was the party we came expecting.