Rock the Campus 2013 Reflection

What’s up Rockford!?! So, did we Rock the Campus or what!?!

Looking back on this year’s event, I keep thinking about progress. As an individual, as Hip Hop Congress, as a Hip Hop community, and as a city. Using the Rock the Campus 2012 event as a gauge of progress, I feel like I have grown as an organizer and a host (I still have a lot of room for growth. Thank you for your patience with me). I feel like the Congress has grown as a collective in our ability to support each other and the local Hip Hop community. I feel like the community is growing more intertwined and active. Finally, I feel like all of these things are collectively breathing life into the city. The power and potential of any society can be found in the youth. When the youth can come together and present a strong, united front, the society as a whole will be better for it.

Last Wednesday and Thursday night, I saw this progress manifest itself in a more creative, better organized, and all around more successful event. I hope we were more entertaining and engaging, and that you left feeling more inspired.

One of the things that was most apparent to me in putting together this year’s event was how much less stress I felt during the preparation. The first time you do anything (especially something that requires so much support from other people) is all about convincing people to believe in you, and giving other people a reason to buy into your vision. Rock the Campus 2012, All Elements 2012, and Hip Hop for the Holidays provided the proof people needed to see this as something worthwhile. I can’t describe how honored I am to have people believe enough in my vision to time and time again help me further that vision.

Next thing was the level of creativity that WE (WE the community) brought to this event. This truly was a collective and collaborative effort. Obviously we took a lot of cues from All Elements 2012, which I believe provided a blueprint for the future of Hip Hop events in this city. But a lot of the inspiration for this year’s event came from Matthew Simpson. Matthew provided a bigger vision for this event and its future than I was able to come up with on my own, and as result WE put together a more collaborative and interactive event than I ever imagined Rock the Campus becoming. The level of imagination could be seen not only in the workshops, the discussion panel, and the performances, but even in the most basic components of any event, like the flyers and the event trailer. I feel like that imagination and energy worked its way into every part of the event, and that we presented a strong representation of Hip Hop culture as a whole in the city.

When the event was over and I had a little time to process what we accomplished, I felt a strong sense of pride in the Hip Hop community. While it’s impossible to involve every part of the community in every event, I feel like we presented an accurate representation of the community as a whole. Hip Hop Congress is essentially just a group of artists and fans of Hip Hop getting together to advocate for other artists and fans. We are not the tastemakers of the local scene, and it’s important to me that we never become that (In a certain subconscious way, I kind of think that’s impossible. But at least to the best of our conscious efforts, lol). Because of that it’s important that we use a broad spectrum of Hip Hop to color our events and create as inclusive of a scene as possible. It’s not our job to say “what is and what isn’t Hip Hop.” It’s our job to advocate for the youth and the individuals who consider themselves a part of the culture. Hip Hop faces enough challenges from the outside world, that it doesn’t make sense for us to fight among ourselves. We need to be strong and united. I hope anyone who attended the event would have a hard time defining Hip Hop Culture as anything other than a culture for the youth, by the youth, full of energy and diversity.

It shouldn’t go without mentioning the setting where we made this happen. Not only did this event go down in the city of Rockford, IL, a city with a notoriously conservative leadership base, but it happened at a place that many consider a conservative institution within a conservative city. With that being said, this could not have happened without the support of Rockford College, particularly Jil Gates in Student Activities. Rock the Campus is a unique collaboration between Rockford College and Hip Hop Congress of Rockford, IL, that I could not have imagined being this successful even a year and a half ago. The experience working with Rockford College on this project is definitely changing my perception of Rockford College as an institution. I feel like it’s also changing the college and the city’s perception of Hip Hop, as well as Hip Hop’s impression of the college. I hope this continues as we continue to work on this event in the future.

To close things out, I just have to offer a huge thanks to everyone involved. Everyone who did anything to contribute to the success of the event, from attending, to promoting, to volunteering, to Rocking the Stage, deserves credit for the outcome. I’ll make my rounds to thank everyone individually. For now, rock on Rocktown.

Justin Saichek

“The Last Wordbender”

Hustle & Culture

Hip Hop Congress of Rockford, IL

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Categories: Community & Events

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  1. Things You Should Know for April 23rd, 2013 « The Rockford Blog

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