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Hip-Hop Hooray 

Rap conference returns to Oberlin.

Dresden Dolls (above) and fan, at House of Blues, - April 10. - WALTER  NOVAK
  • Walter Novak
  • Dresden Dolls (above) and fan, at House of Blues, April 10.
Oberlin College will host Hip-Hop Conference 2005: Political Action and Social Responsibility Wednesday, April 13, through Sunday, April 17. Featuring live performances and seminars, the conference focuses on hip-hop as a culture.

"The idea is to present a positive view of hip-hop, counter to the stereotypical image most frequently portrayed in popular media, characterized by violence, misogyny, and decadent materialism," says Aaron Merkin, president of Oberlin's Hip-Hop 101 Committee, who rhymes as Iron Solomon, Spitboxing's 2005 Battle of the Belts champion. "The conference will address and demonstrate the ways hip-hop music and culture can be utilized as mediums of self-expression and vehicles for social and political change."

Panel discussions will feature nationally recognized authors and noted deep thinkers, including University of California at Santa Cruz professor Tricia Rose, former Source executive editor Bakari Kitwana (and author of The Hip-Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture), and journalist Davey D. Hip-hop luminary Talib Kweli headlines a series of live events, which will include performances by Cleveland's B-boy crew Ill City Rockers and rhymer Saj Supreme. Visit for a full schedule. The four previous conferences have attracted visitors from across the country.

"Hip-hop encompasses visual, verbal, and musical art forms as well as styles of dress and manners of speech," says Merkin. "It's music, culture, and expression in its most raw form."

· Citing financial complications, Cleveland's Disengage and the Alter Boys have pulled out of the national Ryan Dunn Motherfuckin' Rock Night Tour.

· Cleveland native Neil Giraldo -- i.e. , Mr. Pat Benatar -- composed the music for the inspirational travel drama Smile, which just opened on the West Coast. The film isn't playing Cleveland yet, but you can catch the Benatars Tuesday, May 24, with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra. They'll perform orchestral interpretations of 11 of Benatar's songs at Cleveland State University's Waetjen Auditorium (2001 Euclid Avenue).

· Cleveland's Rust Records, an imprint of Universal Records, has added Arkansas country crooner Billy Don Burns to its label, bringing their roster up to six groups.

· Ex-Gem/Guided by Voices guitarist Doug Gillard will lead an informal recording seminar at noon on Saturday, April 16, at Bomb Shack studio (6221 S. Park Boulevard, Parma). For details, call 440-234-4901.

· Akron metalheads Hatecore Inc. will debut a new lineup, opening for Overkill on Tuesday, April 19, at Peabody's (2083 East 21st Street). Axeman Kris Dann has added singer James Begert (formerly of Earworm), bassist Chris Wollet (ex-Heresy), and drummer Bob Stewart (ex-Devour). The band is set to record a four-song demo that includes a cover of the Spudmonsters' "Isolation."

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