Hip-hop event benefits local artists

B-Girl Be began three years ago and holds summits to help female hip-hop artists.

by Heather L. Mueller

The buzz of blow dryers and Lyndale Avenue traffic was muffled by DJ-spun beats Sunday at Moxie Salon.

Hair stylists volunteered their skills to fundraise for B-Girl Be, a Twin Cities organization made up of around 150 female hip-hop artists.

where to go

b-girl be fundraiser
what: “Spinderella” DJ from the rap duo Salt-N-Pepa. Tickets $10
when: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, May 12
where: Foundation Nightclub
For more information, visit: www.bgirlbe.com

The group, founded three years ago, seeks to support, motivate and celebrate women in hip-hop through events featuring music, graffiti, dance, fashion and poetry.

The money raised from the daylong Uptown soiree went to support the upcoming B-Girl Be international summit on June 28- July 1.

The third annual meeting will feature elements of hip-hop culture and incorporate scholarship, filmmaking, media arts and theater.

The next fundraising event is May 12 and will feature DJ “Spinderella” from the hip-hop duo Salt-N-Pepa.

Anthropology sophomore and B-Girl Be volunteer Machen Davis said the events are an opportunity for female artists to network and highlight their skills in a male-dominated genre where women have been pigeonholed into a backseat role.

“Women in hip-hop are much more than mainstream depictions of champagne and bikinis,” she said.

Acknowledging the gravity-defying techniques of break dancers and the creativity of MCs, Machen said hip-hop is capable of drawing different art forms together.

“(Hip-hop) represents a group that gets silenced a lot – people who don’t normally get the spotlight or the mic,” she said.

Moxie media director Heidi Peterson, locally known as DJ Ajent Orange, said the artistic vision of hip-hop can create change in the modern politicized social environment and that community support of B-Girl Be is proof that art is a way to bring people together.

“Our generation needs to wake up,” she said.

Peterson said B-Girl Be is a driving force that supports alternative forms of hip-hop expression.

“The artists are positive and strong, with feminist energy,” she said. “They’re not cocky, they’re not arrogant or want to take anything back; they’re just doin’ what they love and that’s powerful.”

Melisa Rivière, who teaches “Anthropology of Hip-Hop” at the University and is a B-Girl Be co-founder and program manager, said B-Girl Be is knocking down preconceptions about what hip-hop is by honoring its female roots and working to build off the current youth culture.

Rivière said people have inherited a fear and ignorance of hip-hop, particularly some of the harsh, offensive and aggressive lyrics.

Maria Isa, a local MC (who prefers the term Mistress of Ceremonies) said the

changing atmosphere of Twin Cities hip-hop is reminiscent of the underground scene in the late 1970s.

Isa has gained ground as an artist over the past two years with the help of the B-Girl Be organization. She calls the founders her “fairy godmothers.”

They create commercial opportunities for hip-hop artists through international networks, she said.

Isa said although the group focuses on women, it is not feminist; rather it seeks to rebel against the negative commercialization of hip-hop and reinvent the genre to include and build respect for talented female artists.

“Women are doing hip-hop at a time when (the genre) is being shown as a hustle,” she said.