This year's Brown Suga Youth Festival marked the third year that Cavem Moetivation (aka Ietef Vita) and his wife Neambe brought the community together in the name of the today's youth and tomorrow's future. With the help of several local sponsors, the couple put together an event featuring martial arts and traditional dance displays, vegetarian and vegan vendors who served up baked goods, and a cast of guest speakers, experts in the fields of hip-hop, history and sustainable living.
The event, held at the Crossroads Theater in Five Points, was devoted to the causes closest to Cavem's heart: hip-hop and vegan living. While the supplementary workshops on African dance, composting and "green" living gave folks a chance to walk around and check out arts and sciences, the focus of the day was the panel discussion.
Ever a student of his elders, Cavem assembled a complementary mix of hip-hop historians, dancers, activists and artists to speak on the state of hip-hop as a culture and where we might be headed. The panel, which included MC and activist Adrian Molina and seventeen-year-old MC Soul Rebel, spoke on the difference between hip-hop and rap, the current state of hip-hop in the media and how to bring the cultural roots of the music to the forefront of society's idea of Hip Hop. "We're experiencing political, emotional, cultural and spiritual atrophy," Molina said of the current state of the world outside of hip-hop.
When asked how his peers reacted to his message of consciousness in music and living, Soul Rebel, who goes to Manuel High School in Denver, remarked on how it is a constant struggle not to follow the crowd that praises Lil Wayne, who disrespects women as a form of entertainment. "The ones with a lack of knowledge," he said, "are easy to lead in the wrong direction, but hard to lead in the right."
While the name may have been misleading to some due to the lack of clowns, balloons and cake, the Brown Suga Youth Festival provided a safe space for community members and artists alike to join in a day of sharing education and passion for the present and plans for the future, so that the next generation in hip-hop can bask in a wealth of knowledge and engage in sustainable living practices.