A sample from the Hip Hop conference

Hampton students look at the art on display at the Hip Hop conference. (Joanna Rowell//Hampton Script)
Hampton students look at the art on display at the Hip Hop conference. (Joanna Rowell//Hampton Script)

Brittany Barksdale | Staff Writer

In many cases, people may view hip-hop as simply something to listen to while jamming in the car or hanging out with friends. Nalan Smartt Jr., however believes hip-hop is more than that; it is a way to relate and connect to people.

Smartt , a 2008 Hampton University graduate from Staten Island, New York, is the creative director of the Hip-Hop Conference. When speaking with Smartt, one instantly picks up on his passion for music and how it is able to bring together all different types of people. With speakers and Canon SL1, in hand, he was ready to go and start rehearsing for the second showcase during the Hip-Hop Conference.

Hampton University’s Hip-Hop conference is being put together by the school of the liberal arts department. Last year, Smartt was asked to create a showcase featuring the different elements of hip-hop. The show was so successful that Smartt was asked to come back the following year to put together another spectacular program.

“This year’s theme of the show is centered around imaging and sampling and the effect they have on hip-hop as a whole” Smartt stated. This year’s showcase will go over what exactly sampling is and the effect it has on hip-hop industry, as well as what influences artist today to create their music as well as their image.

The conference not only has an amazing theme that will further explore hip-hop as a culture, but the talent involved in the showcase will be sure to be phenomenal.  In addition to college students, people outside of Hampton University will also be able to present their talents. Smartt explained, “There will be familiar faces, as well as people outside of the university involved in the showcase, sharing all new content for people to enjoy. There will be so much diversity of talent that will make people’s heads explode!”

Hip-hop as a culture has had a major influence, not only on the African-American community, but also the world. “Hip-hop is part of history, not only black history but world history,” stated Smartt.

It is important to know how the past of African Americans has influenced the genre. “We as black people need to do more knowledge and research on what we created, we need to know the foundation of who we are in order for us to reach that next phase of creativity and innovation in hip hop,” said Smartt. He believes it is crucial for African American youth to know their history so that they can create a better future.

“Hip-hop is a reflection of life it is not simple it is complex, in order to move forward we have to pace ourselves,” said Smartt. The Hip-Hop conference will give Hampton University students a better understanding of why the genre has the ability to bring so many types of people together.

Smartt hopes that after the audience watches the show, they leave realizing that everyone is able to connect through music.  He also hopes to expand the audience’s view of what hip-hop really is. The Hip-Hop Conference will take place on February 10 and 11. The showcase portion of this conference, will take place on February 11 at 7 p.m. in the student center ballroom.


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