(**UPDATE** Fresh Cut Collective has issued a statement saying that they have talked with the owner of Horny Goat Hideaway and now believe all allegations of racism to be false in respect to HGH and their employees.)
Of all weekends, this past weekend turned out to be a very controversial one for the Milwaukee Hip-Hop and Art community.
Recently, a scandal has been created by Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan over his accusations that the non-profit group, TRUE Skool, known for working with at risk youth, is actually a front for populating the world with more graffiti artists.
On Friday and Saturday TRUE Skool held their 5th annual break dancing contest and block party, respectively, and one of the projects during the events was for students to create a mural under the tutelage of an artist named J-Bird.
The mural is done in the typical graffiti style on a building that gave the organization permission to do so with the agreement that it would be removed only days after it was painted. The painting is reported to be a representation of the struggle between good and evil in the city of Milwaukee and has several stark apocalyptic images on it.
Ald. Donovan is quoted as saying that the levels of graffiti have risen since the creation of TRUE Skool as to indicate that they are directly correlated. He has no proof of this of course.
From all accounts, this weekend was a success, with several hundred people attending and lots of fun had by all those in attendance. There was live music all Saturday from many prominent members of the Milwaukee Hip-Hop community as well as a headline performance by the very community minded Minneapolis rapper Toki Wright…who via his twitter account even gave props to the event.
Donovan’s reaction to being challenged about the validity of his statements was irate and captured on video, and leads to a further understanding of his true colors for the youthful movements of the city even when they are completely legal.
To him, the mural represents crime and a lack of respect for authority and the city. To the creators, the mural represents art and a safe way to express artistic freedom. Expressing that those who did the creating are essentially criminals or criminals in training assumes that all young people interested in alternative art are predetermined to only follow a path of crime and danger.
Let’s break this down further; the alternative art community is often extremely diverse, consisting of people of different colors, and the graffiti style is often associated with minorities…so basically Bob is saying that there is no possible way for African-Americans, Latin-Americans, Asian Americans, etc. to express themselves artistically without wanting to destroy/hurt/harm something. If one really thinks about the underlying tones of what Bob is saying, one could pull out of his words and anger that he doesn’t believe minorities are above acting like animalistic criminals that prey on the destruction of all that is good.
Bob has a problem if he is taking the easy route of just lumping everything he particularly doesn’t like together in a group and stamps it as being “BAD” regardless of whether it is legal or not. What is illegal is illegal. What is legal is legal. They had permission to do what they did and it doesn’t matter if he likes it or not, they had to right to do it.
Milwaukee seems to have a problem catching up to other cities in respect to how the races play with each other, and an old white man calling TRUE Skool and what they represent essentially an artistic terrorist training facility slaps the different shades of skin straight across the face with a switch that is meant to remind those who participated to get back into their place.
Fast forward though Friday and Saturday to get to Sunday, when another eyebrow raising incident took place.
Local Hip-Hop group/band Fresh Cut Collective was scheduled to play a party at the Horny Goat Hideaway for an event put together by 4PM Magazine to celebrate the release of a new issue of their mag.
Only hours before the band was scheduled to play, they were suddenly told that they were no longer welcomed to play the event.
Now, this is a problem in and of itself because it goes to show the lack of respect that a Milwaukee establishment has for local music and the lack of professionalism exhibited by the organizers of the event. Milwaukee is a place that is plagued by people who practice bad business when it comes to local music acts.
However, this isn’t the real problem. The real problem is the alleged reason that they cancelled Fresh Cut Collective only hours before their scheduled performance.
One of the band members reported to me that HGH said they cancelled FCC due to the belief that they wouldn’t be right for the clientele at the establishment and that they would attract “too dark of a crowd”.
If the alleged comments are accurate, this is absolutely preposterous and is the very attitude Milwaukee continues to push forward through the recent past after they “rich and white”ed up Summerfest several years ago, and decided to cancel Riversplash when it got too dark for the comfort of the powers that be.
4PM Magazine and Horny Goat Hideaway did not respond to my emails as of yet and HGH had the phone off the hook it seems for much of yesterday after being called by many of FCC’s fans.
These two instances are bad enough on their own, but to put them together in the same weekend truly shows that Milwaukee is STILL not getting better and that YES it is indeed STILL very much afraid of Hip-Hop and all that comes with it…even if what comes with it is good and builds up the community.
Unfortunately, to many in power, the community being built up is not the right kind of community, or should I say color?
(For more about the mural scandal please follow these links: http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/entertainment/98756189.html?page=3#comments and http://www.cbs58.com/index.php?aid=13256&)