DJ Demp Week continued on Wednesday as the Demp Foundation hosted a Hip-hop Symposium featuring panelists with unique and local perspectives on hip-hop today.
The event, held at the Tallahassee Community College’s Center for Workforce Development, was one of many this week dedicated to Ghostown DJs and the “My Boo” artist DJ Demp for his birthday, which was Jan. 9. The week, going on its twenty-seventh year, involves various activities, parties, and music-related events organized to honor DJ Demp’s influence and contributions to the music scene while also giving back to the Tallahassee community.
Panelists for the Symposium included entrepreneurs and business owners Thomas “TJ” Chapman and Adrian “AD” Dickey, and educators Maurice Johnson and Dr. Jian Jones. Moderators for the panel were Darius “Doc B” Baker, CEO of D-Reel Productions and Nicole Everett, host of “Conversations with Nicole”.
The panelists discussed many topics ranging from their favorite artists, views on the state of hip-hop, and additional advice for attendees interested in pursuing music careers. Jones, an occupational therapist and professor at Florida A&M, believes hip-hop heavily influences those who listen to it.
“Our identity helps us with our decisions,” Jones said. “So, if our identity is rooted in a specific culture, our decisions will be based on that culture. I would say with hip-hop, it’s influencing us as occupational beings.”
Former FAMU journalism professor Maurice Johnson shared the challenges and opportunities he has experienced when creating outlets within an academic environment at an HBCU. He admitted incorporating hip-hop into his curriculum was not easy and pointed to leadership as a barrier.
“It’s tough to implement hip-hop in the classroom at not only the collegiate level but also K -12,” Johnson explained. “So, it’s not succinct to one level of education. It’s just not looked at as valuable in a particular manner.”
Jones stated that despite obstacles Johnson encountered, his advocacy for integrating hip-hop into education made an impact.
Others on the panel agreed, acknowledging that without Johnson’s effort, hip-hop would not have been included in their teaching. They agreed that Johnson’s efforts highlighted the growing acceptance of hip-hop in academia while emphasizing the need for student voices to influence college administrations to buy-in.
Munson, a sociology professor at Florida State also used hip-hop in her sociology courses for her students.
“I believe it is white privilege that allowed me to watch this class,” Munson said. “Because there are a lot of classes at FSU that use hip-hop, but they don’t have it in the title.”
Munson stated it was essential to use her own privilege as a white woman to open doors and “to create social cohesion.”
At the conclusion of the panel, DJ Demp stressed how the cultural significance of events like the Hip-Hop symposium and how it connected back to his vision for the future of the music genre.
“For one, I’m a DJ, and music is what inspired me and started me to be able to put things on like this,” Demp explained. “It’s very important to me, especially because of the culture that I’m in. To be able to teach it to a diverse audience is very important. That’s the bridging of the gap that we speak about.”
In 2023, the City of Tallahassee present DJ Demp on his birthday with a key to the city. This year, during Demp Week, he is being recognized at the capitol again.
Demp said he was blessed to be in the position that he is in right now.
“It just happened,” Demp said. “I’m just doing what I do on a normal basis, but sometimes, doing what you do can get you recognized. It wasn’t a plan; it was just something that happened and blossomed, and that’s what it was.”
To engage with the events for DJ Demp Week, check out www.dempweek.com for more information.