At the third and final day of the Core DJ Retreat in Jackson, the afternoon showcase was sponsored by Atlanta-based Good Life Music Group, and was hosted by the venerable Jacksonville DJ Bigga Rankin, who has broken many a new artist in his day. After the showcase, there was an informal wrap-up led by Tony Neal, recognizing those who helped put the conference together, before we all headed out to Freelon’s for an afternoon cook-out and a final rap showcase.
While the media turns its huge spotlight on hip-hop whenever something tragic, criminal or salacious happens, they are conspicuously absent when rappers and people in the hip-hop industry do something positive, which happens all the time. On Sunday morning, the third and final day of the Core DJ Retreat in Jackson, Mississippi, conference attendees turned out en masse to feed homeless people in Jackson’s Smith Park, an urban park near the conference hotel that literally sits a block from the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion. It is disconcerting that Jackson has a severe problem with homelessness, but I suppose all cities do these days. At any rate, we brought food, but we also brought our DJ’s, and thus music and dance. Hopefully, we not only nourished bodies but also refreshed spirits as well.
Twice a year, The Core DJ Coalition meets somewhere in America, at events called retreats. The Core is the largest urban DJ coalition in America, and these conventions are usually held in the capitals of America’s entertainment industry- Atlanta, Miami Beach, Las Vegas, etc. So it was something of a shock when it was announced that this fall’s Core DJ Retreat would be held in Jackson, Mississippi. Although Jackson has always had a wealth of rap talent and a unique and different rap vibe, the city has not usually been associated with the music business in any regular sense. But this year’s Core retreat coincided with a recent flowering of the arts in Jackson, exemplified by the growth of the Fondren neighborhood and the Midtown Arts District, and the retreat, held at the Marriott Hotel downtown, cast a spotlight on Mississippi artists and DJ’s in particular. The evening showcase after registration was hosted by my homeboy Sess 4-5 from New Orleans, the rapper, record store owner and activist, and I was quite impressed with a group of his homeboys from the 9th Ward, the Cain Gang who were among the performers on stage Friday night. After the showcase, everyone headed a few blocks over to Freelon’s for a party.