DETROIT, April 18 /PRNewswire/ -- At a time when political candidates traditionally ignored 18- to 35-year-olds, 31-year-old Kwame M. Kilpatrick embraced them. They, in turn, elected him the youngest mayor ever in the city of Detroit and the youngest big-city mayor in America. At a time when hip-hop is still struggling to gain national acceptance, Eminem rocked the world by winning Grammys and an Oscar -- the first time a rapper has ever received such recognition. And in the early 1980s, when critics said rap music was a trend that wouldn't last, Russell Simmons -- the catalyst in developing hip-hop and founding Chairman of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, or HSAN -- cultivated a youth culture and today has built a $1-billion corporation from it. The Detroit NAACP -- the nation's largest NAACP branch -- was, in the early 1990s, among the first civil rights organizations in the country to embrace hip-hop as a culture and economic powerhouse. The NAACP produced annual hip-hop summits to bring record executives and performers together with community leaders to discuss the vast opportunities within hip-hop. On April 26, Mayor Kilpatrick, Eminem, Simmons, and the local NAACP branch will deliver a lesson of entrepreneurial, economic and political empowerment to America's youth. The event: The Detroit Hip-Hop Summit 2003 - The Remix: ReBuilding, ReFocusing, ReInvesting, ReSurgence. The summit is expected to draw more than 13,000 young people, making it the largest such summit in America to date. The Detroit Hip-Hop Summit will be held in conjunction with the Detroit NAACP's Annual Freedom Weekend. The Freedom Weekend, which grew from previous hip-hop summits, will include several symposiums and workshops focused on rebuilding communities. This year's Freedom Weekend hip-hop summit will host some of the nation's most famous hip-hop artists and business people. In a panel setting, they will reinforce the power of hip-hop culture by offering their experiences as testimonies of its unlimited potential and opportunity. Hip-hop summits have been held in seven major U.S. cities, including New York City and Los Angeles. However, the Detroit summit will be unique, and not just because of its scope. The Detroit summit will go down in history because of its connection to the NAACP Freedom Weekend and the key involvement of Mayor Kilpatrick, Simmons and top-selling artist Eminem. The summit will feature two panels. The first panel will focus on discussion topics that range from getting a first record deal, to owning a record label, to the business behind the art. The second panel will address broader hip-hop culture issues, such as leveraging political and economic influence. Other events in Detroit that celebrate the hip-hop culture are scheduled in conjunction with the summit. They include: the Mayor's opening reception, hosted by Shady Records; the official launch of Phat Farm's footwear line, sponsored by Russell Simmons and Phat Farm; and a poetry slam and separate rap battle, as well as a Hip-Hop Summit after-party. The poetry slam, rap battle and party are sponsored by Clear Channel Entertainment. "As a result of the historic local involvement with hip-hop, we decided to go national and recognize one of the key motivators and developers of this multi-billion-dollar industry -- Russell Simmons," said Rev. Wendell Anthony, President of the Detroit Branch, NAACP. "And, Freedom Weekend will allow us to showcase Detroit as a mecca of dialogue and ideas, while creating economic opportunities for businesses." "We want young people and up-and-coming artists to know that when we talk about hip-hop culture, it goes so much further than just getting a rap song played on the air -- it impacts fashion, theater and corporate business and political decisions," said Simmons of HSAN, the largest coalition of rap artists and record company executives. "This culture influences this entire world, generating America's urban entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, clothing designers, millionaires and mayors." Hip-hop was born on the streets of New York, at a time when local artists in Detroit struggled to get a break on the local and national radio stations. Today, in Detroit, Clear Channel Entertainment, a co-sponsor of the Detroit summit, celebrates local hip-hop through its FM station WJLB, which is the city's leader of urban radio. "For me, Detroit itself symbolizes hip-hop in a lot of different ways," said Eminem. "Everybody who's been involved in Detroit hip-hop culture here has spent years trying to bring light to the city, the same way Russell worked to bring hip-hop to the attention of the world. And the same way the Mayor is working to put Detroit back in the spotlight. It's the struggle to be heard and to be recognized. It's our time ... both hip-hop's and Detroit's." The Motor City is known for the auto industry that moves the nation's population to its destinations. Since the 1960s, it's also been known for being the center of political movements that jumpstarted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington, and for the Motown sound that moved Americans to dance floors in every city. It has become a center of fashion, diversity, dialogue, political and spiritual movements, and -- yes, hip-hop, said Mayor Kilpatrick. "In short, Detroit moves the world, and in many cases, we have done it on the backs of young people without them really realizing it," said the Mayor. "Detroit is rebuilding and resurging, and young people are beginning to understand that they have a place and a role in changing the world, right here from their city. "Hip-hop artists and managers can begin to utilize their talents and platforms to actually change the things in urban America that they describe as troubling in the music," added Mayor Kilpatrick. "We believe bringing the absolute largest names in the hip-hop culture to the city of Detroit will generate the kind of dialogue that creates young entrepreneurs who can rebuild urban communities across America."
SOURCE City of Detroit