Ten years and more than 8000 lbs of food later, Hip Hop for Hunger is entering its 11th year, with a new lineup and a mission to raise 1500 lbs in food donations for the city's less fortunate.
“We've seen it get to a point of averaging out a little over 1100 lbs every single year, so that's definitely a positive, which means we're raising a consistent level of food and a good level of food,” notes organizer Marlon Wilson—also known as Arlo Maverick of Politic Live—over the phone, adding this year, the food bank has asked donors to take changing dietary needs of Edmonton's multicultural community into consideration when selecting items.
Despite the event's consistent and continuing success, it hasn't been without its challenges—particularly in making it exciting each year and roping in the younger generation. Wilson notes the plugged-in, social media generation has a plethora of ways to communicate with one another, but when it comes to getting them off to an actual event, it can be like pulling teeth. As part of the solution, Wilson has worked to incorporate younger hip-hop acts into Hip Hop for Hunger's roster.
“You can make as many videos on YouTube as possible, but until you're able to bring your music out there and actually entertain people and find that connect, there's a disconnect, y'know?” he adds. “This year, we've introduced the eight emcee cipher, which is going to introduce younger up-and-coming hip-hop emcees here in the city who we feel in the next five to 10 years will be the mainstays as far as Edmonton hip hop goes and will be the people travelling, whether it's across Canada or worldwide, to raise the flag of Edmonton hip hop.”
Raising the profile of young artists and community engagement has always been an integral part of Wilson's career, and he recognizes the positive influence musicians can have, famous or not. Wilson acknowledges that hip-hop music tends to have a negative stigma attached to it, but is working to show that it can be used for empowerment.
“At one point in time, art was used to create social change and art was used to reflect the climate of the world … I think as it's become more corporate we've lost sight of what art can be used for,” he notes. “When we look at some of the greatest artists of all time, whether it be Bob Marley or John Lennon or Tupac or anybody who's ever really had a huge impact on the world, they've often used their art to create that change, whether it be directly or indirectly.”
Sat, Dec 22 (8 pm)
Sonny Grimezz and guests
Haven Social Club,
$8 (advance), $12 (at the door,
$10 with food bank donation)