Hip-hop community leaders Karen Reece and Rob Dz led an in-depth conversation on August 6.
Madison hip-hop artists and the people who advocate for them have given us not just music but also a pretty solid blueprint for tackling the impact of systemic racism upon the local arts community. The 2018 report from the City of Madison’s Task Force on Equity in Music and Entertainment looked at why artists of color, and especially hip-hop artists, often get short shrift from local venues and civic leaders. It also put forth a slew of specific policy recommendations for tackling the problem, and showed a profound understanding of how the arts world intersects with everything from policing to public transit to housing.
As we noted recently, the explosion of protests against racism and police brutality only make the report more relevant. And even though our city government technically asked for this report, elected leaders on the Madison Common Council and other governing bodies really haven’t done much to act on its recommendations. The Task Force’s chair and co-chair, Karen Reece and Rob Dz, aren’t letting it go. Dz, a beloved local MC and spoken-word artist, and Reece, leader of the non-profit Urban Community Arts Network, have continued to try and keep the report in the public eye. On August 6, they partnered with Coney Island Studios and WORT-FM to lead a discussion about it, which we at Tone Madison were proud to sponsor as well.
Even if you’re familiar with the Task Force’s report and the long, repetitive cycles that undermine local hip-hop, it’s well worth catching up on this conversation. Reece and Dz spent some time providing context for the report, but also shared a lot of insight on how to advance the cause from here. You can watch the full discussion here: