OuttaDeeBox Podcast

Honoring Aldermen Khalif Rani and the Community Power of Milwaukee's Hip Hop Week

April 18, 2024 Season 5 Episode 1
Honoring Aldermen Khalif Rani and the Community Power of Milwaukee's Hip Hop Week
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OuttaDeeBox Podcast
Honoring Aldermen Khalif Rani and the Community Power of Milwaukee's Hip Hop Week
Apr 18, 2024 Season 5 Episode 1

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Step into the vibrant beats and powerful narratives of Milwaukee's hip-hop scene with the visionary Aldermen Khalif Rani, freshly inducted into the Milwaukee Hip Hop Museum. This episode is a heartfelt homage to the man behind America's first Hip Hop Week, a movement that resonates far beyond entertainment, knitting the community together with threads of tradition, support, and empowerment. We reminisce about the electric energy of the first event graced by DJ Kool Herc and how KKhalif'sdream blossomed into a phenomenon, fostering celebration and change within the local African-American community.

Let's journey through the transformative rhythms of hip-hop as it shapes lives and forges indelible connections. From the lyrical prowess of Jay-Z to the raw emotion of DMX, we share tales of how these icons propelled us through the toughest moments and inspired resilience. Our discussion loops in personal favorites and underrated lyrical geniuses, shaping our top five rappers list and sparking a dialogue on how hip-hop culture is a vessel for community activism. With MiMilwaukee'sip Hop Week as the backdrop, we look at its potential to engage youth and promote health. We consider the future of hip-hop in the community endeavors as we step into new chapters and continue championing the beats that unite us.

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Send us a Text Message.

Step into the vibrant beats and powerful narratives of Milwaukee's hip-hop scene with the visionary Aldermen Khalif Rani, freshly inducted into the Milwaukee Hip Hop Museum. This episode is a heartfelt homage to the man behind America's first Hip Hop Week, a movement that resonates far beyond entertainment, knitting the community together with threads of tradition, support, and empowerment. We reminisce about the electric energy of the first event graced by DJ Kool Herc and how KKhalif'sdream blossomed into a phenomenon, fostering celebration and change within the local African-American community.

Let's journey through the transformative rhythms of hip-hop as it shapes lives and forges indelible connections. From the lyrical prowess of Jay-Z to the raw emotion of DMX, we share tales of how these icons propelled us through the toughest moments and inspired resilience. Our discussion loops in personal favorites and underrated lyrical geniuses, shaping our top five rappers list and sparking a dialogue on how hip-hop culture is a vessel for community activism. With MiMilwaukee'sip Hop Week as the backdrop, we look at its potential to engage youth and promote health. We consider the future of hip-hop in the community endeavors as we step into new chapters and continue championing the beats that unite us.

Support the Show.

Speaker 1:

What's up everybody. This is your host D-Star here with Ottoman Khalif Rani City, milwaukee. Man, I don't even know what to say. Man, welcome. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. I don't know if I can welcome you to your own city. We're at the Hip Hop Museum right now. This brother, it's a lot. We're going to unpack everything, but first what we want to do is we would like to honor you today. From Out of the Box Podcast the Madison. I mean the Madison, the Milwaukee Hip Hop Museum, and Holy God's Clothing. We would like to formally induct you into the Milwaukee Hip Hop Museum today.

Speaker 2:

What does it all consist of?

Speaker 1:

That consists of you being recognized, wow, and.

Speaker 2:

Look at this. Wow, that's amazing.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, Khalif Rainey, for all your contribution to the hip hop community here in Milwaukee.

Speaker 2:

Man. I appreciate that man Appreciate you. Thank you very much. I'm going to put this on the mantle. Thank you, no problem.

Speaker 1:

Appreciate that you did it. You've done a lot, you continue to be of service and we just really wanted to celebrate you.

Speaker 2:

I never got a hip-hop award, so this is my first time getting an award associated with hip hop. So thank you, I appreciate it.

Speaker 1:

Well, and it's funny because you created the first hip hop week in any city in America, so it's only right.

Speaker 2:

Thank you again. I appreciate it.

Speaker 2:

The idea of hip hop week. You know I saw like fashion week. You know I saw a restaurant week. You know I saw like fashion week. You know I saw a restaurant week, you know.

Speaker 2:

So, to me I'm thinking like no duh, we need a hip-hop week, right, right, you know so when I said that, you know, my wife was like you know, you gotta make sense of it, though, like we just can't be out there spinning on our heads for a week. You know we have to actually, uh, make it a value to the community. So for me, you know, beyond the hip-hop, beyond the culture, you know, we have to actually make it a value to the community. So for me, you know, beyond the hip hop, beyond the culture, you know, beyond the art, hip hop week is really about creating a platform to bring members of the community together to get resources, information that they can improve their quality of life with. So we have a lot of fun, we enjoy the seven days, but what's most importantly is connecting with people with the resources that they can change the quality of their life Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

So kind of take me through its inception. What gave you the idea to start the hip hop week?

Speaker 2:

You know, it really was as simple as I just mentioned. You know, like I was, I saw, I saw a fashion week. You know that's something that the city supports. We have restaurant week, where we highlight several other you know restaurants in the city and you know I thought it was important that we celebrated the culture that was the most dominant culture in the world at that time. Right, I believe it still is, still is, still is. So I'm thinking, like you know, this is a good way to bring people together, especially in the community that's faced so many challenges. You, you know this is a good way to bring people together, especially in the community that's faced so many challenges. You know, bringing people together, bringing resources to the table and celebrating and having fun. So that really was the premise behind the idea. And you know I've enjoyed every single hip hop week we've had. You know we had some very celebrated people come to the city and participate and I hope we can continue that going forward. What?

Speaker 1:

are some of the most memorable moments that you've had in Hip Hop Week Wow.

Speaker 2:

I must say, the first year when we had DJ Kool Herc. The one thing I must mention about Hip Hop Week was when I actually introduced the idea, the Common Council, we passed a policy before I had even one act to come and perform for the Hip Hop Week. But once I mentioned it, once it was public, once it was in the papers and the news, so many partners from the city started contacting me saying, hey, we want to be a part of it. You know, we want to participate. How can we be a part of it? So you know, it's something that the city has been behind, you know, and it's a very diverse group of supporters. I got to thank Associated Bank, I got to thank Leslie and Joe at the Rave, I got to thank Matt Talbot so many people who come together to make it happen.

Speaker 1:

So you know, I had the idea, but without the community support, you know, it wouldn't go anywhere, Absolutely so did you expect for the community to embrace it as much as they have.

Speaker 2:

Well, you know, knowing hip-hop, like I know hip-hop, I anticipated that they would. I anticipated that this is something that they would want, knowing that we lost African World Festival and we lost some of the community activities that we celebrated over the years. Why is?

Speaker 1:

that. What happened? Because I know that was like the biggest one in the country, right, the African Fest, african World Festival. Yeah, what happened with?

Speaker 2:

Because I know that was like the biggest one in the country, right? The African Fest, african World Festival. Yeah, what happened with that? I'm actually a former board member of African World Festival. I was a part of the team that bought it back, you know, after it went defunct for a while, we bought Charlie Wilson and others to celebrate African World Festival. Shout out to Charlie Wilson, shout out to Charlie Wilson. I love Charlie Wilson. How can you not? One of the challenges was and the thing that I'm trying to avoid with Hip Hop Week is there was an act of violence that occurred at African World Festival and that kind of sent it into a tailspin. So I kind of designed Hip Hop Week with that in mind, like, yeah, I know that rap battles are part of hip hop, but I try to avoid things that could mar, you know, the the image that hip hop week has here in the city of milwaukee and keep it positive absolutely so.

Speaker 1:

Um you, you're using um hip hop in such a unique way, so you're using hip hop as a catalyst to bring in the youth and to bring in their parents and give them information, education and resources. What gave you the idea to?

Speaker 2:

mix the two. Excuse me. Well, you know, in my role as an alderman, I'm really just doing my job. You know my job is to connect my constituents, the people, the residents of the city of Milwaukee, with resources. That's my goal. So this is the way that I figured that I can serve some of my constituents. I represent like 53206. I represent probably one of the Most African American districts in the city of Milwaukee, and knowing the affinity that we have For hip hop, so you say it's young people up to their father.

Speaker 2:

So the three tenets of hip hop week are health, financial literacy and civic engagement right. So we talk about finances and hip-hop we talk about getting our money, getting our money right. Let's really explore that, though. Let's really talk about how do we create a pattern of healthy spending and saving, like, what are some of the opportunities for us to be entrepreneurs? So during hip-hop week, we really dig into that. This past hip-hop week we had Dame Dash and he talked about, you know, what he experienced with being in entrepreneurship and some of the things that could catapult us or could possibly be our downfall.

Speaker 2:

When we talk about health, we had the likes of Master Ace. Shout out, master Ace, he suffers from MS. So we talked about the things that he do to live a healthy lifestyle, how he avoids certain things and how he maintains his health. So when you talk about young people up to adults, that's a different conversation, right? We could talk about sexual health to young people, or talk about avoiding drugs and things of that nature. Now to your father, we could talk about prostate cancer. We could talk about et cetera, et cetera, high blood pressure, whatever. So it goes from one extreme to the other. We can talk to young people to old people and we can still talk in the same context, which is hip-hop. So you said the civic engagement.

Speaker 1:

Civic engagement. I'm sorry, Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Speaker 2:

When we talk about civic engagement. That's essentially what we were just talking about before we started this conversation on air. We were talking about people voting, getting involved in their community. How do you do that? What that look like, right? So we had the likes of like Stickman from Dead Prez. He's coming, he's talking about being civically involved. We had Scarface from Houston who at the time was running for office, running for the Common Council in the city of Houston, and he came and shared why he was running for office and what that meant in the sense of hip hop, right, and we had a good conversation. But, yeah, we touching those things health, financial literacy and getting people involved in their community.

Speaker 1:

So is it at one central location or is it multiple locations around the city? How does it work?

Speaker 2:

We hit every part of the city. We on the south side, we on the west side, we on the north side we want this to be a citywide event. Every part of the city. We on the south side, we on the west side, we on the north side we want this to be a citywide event. And so, wherever you at, we want to make sure it's convenient for you to get up and come, walk over to an event. So we had, like DJ Envia G's Clippers. We've had people in establishments that was easy for people to come to when the events are free.

Speaker 1:

Wow, it's totally free, so it doesn't matter you know what budget, what age. It's all age. It's all you know appropriate, it's clean and it's educational and it's filling a need in the community.

Speaker 2:

Yep, absolutely, and the conversations are free. Those are typically held at, you know I mentioned the barbershop, sherman Phoenix community institutions. But when we talk about concerts you know I mentioned the barbershop, sherman Phoenix community institutions but when we talk about concerts, you know those are ticketed events.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean, of course you know you have to Absolutely. What are some of the things that you really hope for the future, for Hip Hop Week?

Speaker 2:

You know some of the things that I hope to do that have that I haven't done yet for hip-hop week. You know I was talking to a photographer by the name of jonathan manion. He's shot some of the most epic hip-hop photos in history of hip-hop. You know I want to work with the art museum and have an exhibit there where I'm really want to introduce the community at large to different aspects of hip-hop. Like I'm pretty sure people wouldn't even know there's a photography aspect to that right there's a film aspect like cartoon absolutely cartoon.

Speaker 2:

And and when you're talking about artistry, like you know tattoos, right, you know graffiti, graffiti, absolutely yeah, things like that I think it's an opportunity for for those who love hip-hop, you know, have an affinity for it, they can come enjoy some of those things in their own community. And then I also think it's an opportunity for people who may not know much about hip hop and what it's about to come experience it in a capacity that they're not accustomed to and find a new appreciation for it.

Speaker 1:

So where did your love of hip-hop start? You know?

Speaker 2:

my mama had that Sugar Hill Gang record right there and it's funny because when my parents got divorced the biggest assets was the photographs and the records right. So music was very important in our home. Music was always playing and it wasn't hip-hop. I was born in 1980, so hip-hop was around, but it wasn't as prominent as it is now and for me it just brought so much color to the world. It just really showed me as a young black man it was a whole other life that I could live. So I've always had an affinity for hip-hop. I love not just rap music but music in general. But it's really been a a voice that has catapulted me through life, like when I'm in the library in college and jay-z dropped the blueprint. I thought I was jay-z, thought you was jay-z I thought I was jay-z.

Speaker 2:

Now you're jay-z in the library, in In the library I was Jay-Z studying.

Speaker 1:

You know what I mean, so you know. For me, I'm in this great college, I'm doing great and you're talking about it's hard not life, hey, but listen for those who really dig deep into Jay-Z.

Speaker 2:

You know that he has inspired you Right. You know what I'm saying. And he I was in there Trying to major To be a political science. He was doing Whatever he was doing, but the energy, it was kinetic energy that he was giving to me To go do what I needed To do where I was at Right, absolutely. I don't want to Not underscore the importance of that.

Speaker 1:

I mean it is important, and I do that in jest, but hip hop has guided me through a lot of rough times in my life. I'm a huge, huge, huge DMX fan. Nothing wrong with that, you know. And people say, man, people used to say X is the best DMX.

Speaker 2:

he didn't drop no album when I was in the library, though.

Speaker 1:

Right, right, right, it would have been different if your energy would have did for me. People used to say man. People used to say X is the best. No, he still is. I mean X fans are very, very, very different Right To the core. We love them to the core. Good, bad, ugly doesn't matter. I'm an X fan. I put X at number one in my top five.

Speaker 2:

Go ahead and finish the rest of the five, though, oh.

Speaker 1:

God, I knew you was going to say that, so I'll fire. Though, oh god, I knew he was gonna say that, right, so I do, I'll do x. I gotta put x, I gotta. You know, I'm from the midwest, so I'm gonna, I'm gonna put twister in there, ain't wrong? Yeah, I mean that's just what it is he's a legend yeah, um, I gotta put oh god, I can't say, I can't believe I'm doing this on camera. So x twister jada kiss. All right, absolutely. This is a weird one because X Twista Jadakiss.

Speaker 2:

All right, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

This is a weird one because I know I'm going to get a lot of flack, but I love Sheik Lush Absolutely. That's just my guy. I like your list, so far.

Speaker 2:

I love Sheik and man, that's a hard one, man, you did pretty good.

Speaker 1:

I don't know, man, I'm going to have to say the last one. Just give me a second, because it's like three people. Nah, it's on you.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to come a little different. You know I'm going to name like five unsung rappers. Okay, elzai, elzai, elzai. I like Elzai.

Speaker 1:

Shout L's Eye.

Speaker 2:

L's Eye, l's Eye, I like L's Eye. Shout out L's Eye. I like Cormega. Okay, cormega shout out. Cormega, I like who else? My man Sky Zoo shout out Sky Zoo. He actually mentioned me on his song Bodega Flowers man, I appreciate that okay, okay, okay.

Speaker 1:

What was the bar? Go ahead, give us the bar you can check it out.

Speaker 2:

you can show love. What was the bar? Go ahead, give us the bar. You can check it out. Man, as soon as we done with this, right here, bodega flowers. But um, who else? Uh, man, benny the butcher, that's my guy.

Speaker 1:

That's my man right there. Yeah, I'm gonna put. I'm gonna put a 50 on there.

Speaker 2:

There you go For the five. You have four, okay, so let me see who else I'm going to meet.

Speaker 1:

That five is hard.

Speaker 2:

That fifth one is so hard.

Speaker 1:

I was looking for my phone, my bad.

Speaker 2:

Got it. I was looking for my Spotify real quick. I'm going to say Rock Marciano, okay, rock Marciano absolutely. And Knowledge the Pirate as well. Solid, two good people, yep.

Speaker 1:

I also like to do an honorable mention to Tech. He's incredible.

Speaker 2:

He speaks for himself, absolutely yeah, he's incredible man, Serious, serious, serious lyricist.

Speaker 1:

So what's next for the city? What's next for you? What's next? Because I know that you said some things, so I just want to know what's next.

Speaker 2:

You know what's next for me personally, this current election. I'm not seeking re-election for.

Speaker 1:

I was going to let you say it. I didn't know if that was public.

Speaker 2:

I'm not seeking re-election for Alderman the 7th Alderman of the District. It's definitely been a pleasure and the honor of my life so far to serve the great people of the 7th Alderman of the District, but I'm still a young man. I want to pursue some other opportunities. You know, before I'm unable to do that, so I don't know exactly what's next for me in the immediate future. But you know it is a plan of mine to continue hip hop week here in the city of Milwaukee and I think with the community we have people are reaching out saying you know, how can we bring it back? How can we keep it going? And I think if we work together we can keep this going. And I see other communities around the country. I see Baltimore. They had a hip-hop week.

Speaker 2:

I've spoken with the mayor of St Louis, I've spoken to some elected officials in Baton Rouge, louisiana, and other communities are excited about it. I mean, I think every community faces some of the same issues Like what do we do to engage younger people? You know, how do we give them um, purposeful work, you know? I mean I think that this is what it does and everybody can kind of curtail it for what the need is in their community. These are the things that you know.

Speaker 2:

Health that's a real issue for african-american people here in wisconsin we have one of the most obese african-american populations here in the country, you know and finances we have some of the biggest disparities between the white family and the black family in the country. So the way that I customized Hip Hop Week here it was specifically to speak to those issues. But other communities, you know you could take the platform and really set it up the way you would like or fits the issues of your community. So I'm excited about it. I'm excited about seeing it grow. I think that every city in the country needs a Hip Hop Week, would you agree?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I would agree too, I'm going to say internationally.

Speaker 2:

I think internationally.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because it's everywhere, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

Everybody should, and I think there's ways. And I incorporate the library. They publish a list of hip hop-related periodicals, so I try to incorporate every department in the city. Y'all got houses for sale. Let's do a workshop on selling houses during Hip Hop Week. If you dig through the schedule, we try to touch on every aspect of quality of life here. It's about hip hop, but you know hip hop is it's really not the focus of the week. You know it's probably the most exciting thing of the week.

Speaker 1:

We'll be focused on so much more than just the music and art yeah, and, and you guys have done just a an amazing job um charting the course for the entire country to follow that blueprint, to use hip-hop, and. Um, the way that it was supposed to be used in its inception, the way that the creators wanted us to use it. They didn't want us to use it to divide us. It was supposed to be to shed a light on issues in the community and bring education and knowledge to one another.

Speaker 2:

I see other bodies of government following the lead. I see Jamal Brown. He's a congressman out of New York. He created a hip-hop task force, I think about two weeks ago. Then I saw over the summer the president, the vice president. They hosted a hip-hop concert on the lawn of the White House. So government is recognizing this is a platform that we can use.

Speaker 2:

It's not going away, it's not going away but, most importantly, how can we use it effectively? Right, you know what I mean, because there's many aspects of it in which people blame hip-hop for ills in the community, but how can we utilize the platform to make improvements in our community? And I think that's what we're trying to do with Hip Hop Week.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think that's what you are doing, sir.

Speaker 2:

Appreciate you you, thank you, a thousand thank yous from everybody here at the milwaukee hip-hop museum, madison and the entire country. We really appreciate everything.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, shout out, madison man don't get up there enough.

Speaker 2:

I need to get up there absolutely well.

Speaker 1:

I'm d star until next time, guys.

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