Co-founder Kal “5th Elament” Champlain re-discovers the power of women in hip hop!

5 Jun

Hip Hop More Alive Than Ever: RAPATHON 5
by Kal “5th Elament” Champlain

I love my culture. I love hip hop. I love being a woman. These are a few of my favorite things and I got to engage in all of them in the past two weeks. The third week of May is  hip hop appreciation week and I wanted to celebrate. Thanks to Kurt Nice out of Jersey and D.R .the Chef  and Nikki out of Harlem- I got the opp, times 1 million.

I am a woman who will do whatever she needs to perfect her craft. I got the opportunity when I saw a post to participate in Hip Hop appreciation week in Jersey. There I not only performed but sat on a panel that discussed different topics of hip hop. Including: Hip Hop and the “illuminati” (to which Hakeem stated: Leave it alone- these are all just excuses for you not doing what you need to be doing), Feminism in hip hop, and hip hop and its decline. While we could not go into these conversations in depth, it was great to be able to touch on each one as I sat on the panel with great minds such as the manager of KRS-One, and The old A&R for Artists such as RZA from Wutang. With an opening of tributes to the ancestors and the forefathers and mothers of hip hop, and the close by the electrifying and soul stirring performer NY Oil and his youth group PEMG- it was an amazing event indeed.

This event was also a great place to network with other artists and organizers and I scored a table with D.R. the Chef and Nikki of the Harlem Hip Hop culture center. Because I’ve been in rhythm it was the fresh synchronicity as they were there promoting Rapathon 5: a 28 hour cypher to break the guinness book of world record. A I sat there with them I felt a bond forming. They were so real. So True. So open. And so was I. The clincher came when D.R. stated “You will meet the best femcees in the game at this event.” I WAS IN.

3 trips in one week to NY later (one for the audition which I beasted, one for the rehearsal, and then the final event) and I was there. Rocking among some of NY’s Tightest Emcees. And sprinkled in were those of us from the outskirts, who loved the culture with all we have and who came to tighten our game at the birthplace of hip hop. NY. I was in love from the moment I stepped into the Harlem Hip Hop Culture center.

The lyrics spilled onto the Streets of Harlem, Frederick Douglass Blvd  gained a new sense of abolition as the art of the freestyle removed the leftover mental shackles and began to welcome true lovers of hip hop culture. The energy uplifted, expanded, and united. The rules were simple: Come with your best game, pay attention to the coach, and no cussing. The last was a testament to the true lyrical abilities that the Hip Hop Culture demands. Their motto- If you cannot spit without swearing- you can’t spit.

I was excited and nervous. I was put with some of the illest femcees in the game. Women who have rocked mics for years, who have honored hip hop culture with their lives, and who had spirits that could move you in one sitting. It was there I got my training.

It was perhaps Atlas’ that made the greatest impression on me. As the mentee of MC Lyte and a veteran in the game, I had a chance to warm up with her during the rehearsal before the event. It was in that circle that she got me “open,” making me learn to marry my words with the moment. Teaching me to be a conduit. Helping me understand that in order to get to where I needed to be I had to reinforce my lifelong lesson of learning to let go. Let go of the fear, let go of the apprehension, let go of the self doubt.  “You can enter a lot of circles to get better in your game, but it is with the women that you will truely manifest your gift and get nurtured.” She was right. Only 20 minutes with her and I felt free-er then I ever had in a cypher. I was ready.

Women took the stage several times during those 28 hours. Each moment an exemplification of how Hip Hop Culture Center holds the women precious. There was no begging for the mic in Harlem. It was given readily, sometimes urgently- they understood our power. They understood our importance. We rocked the stage treating the crowd like a ship on rough winds over the sea, except with the reassurance they would make it to the shore. Dipping and diving, weaving in and out of ideas, concepts, and lessons with our lyrics. Our words electrifying and exhilarating. We were UNSTOPPABLE. D.R. Kept his word. I was elated.

After this, there is no doubt in my mind that it is the women who will lead you. It is the women who will ground you, inspire you, and sustain you. From the times we rocked the stage to my girl Nikki on stage and off holding it down behind the scenes with encouragement and stage/event management- There was no question of our power.

This experience is meant to shut up all those who think that a group of women cannot join together without a “cat fight.” This experience was meant to shut up all those who forget to put us on the bill because “There just aren’t enough of you” or “femcees just aint that dope.” It was meant to show the magnificent energy that we can generate. It solidified my mission, clarified my purpose, and helped to feed my own endeavors as I took the energy back to my partner in Isis Storm. Because we always knew… It was just nice to have our sisters from another space and place confirm our vibes.

Final Thoughts: Oh sure- some will try and water this down to just a “bunch of rappers trying to break a record,” but it was so much more than that. It was the coming together of genders, generations, and cultures to show one thing: Hip Hop is NOT DEAD and never will be. And as our voices overflowed onto Frederick Douglass blvd I couldn’t help but picture our ancestors chanting “Keep on you don’t stop….Keep on-Rock on!”




One Response to “Co-founder Kal “5th Elament” Champlain re-discovers the power of women in hip hop!”

  1. Valerie June 17, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Loved reading this experience. And, totally know how important it is to be the conduit…to get out of the way so the spirit’s gift can come through. You are AWESOME!!

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