Preview: The Oregon Hip-Hop History Tour is a celebration of culture

Throughout Oregon’s history, people of color have been systematically excluded. Even in recent decades, the hip-hop community in Portland, mostly comprising of people of color, has had to endure unfair police interventions at their gatherings and shows, the closing of significant venues and general discrimination towards the scene. As the conditions have improved, Oregon’s hip-hop community and history has grown into something to celebrate. This Thursday, Mind Elevations Network, WOW Hall and the Oregon Historical Society will be hosting the Oregon Hip-Hop History Tour to honor Oregon’s largely underappreciated hip-hop scene.

The evening begins at 8 p.m. with multiple events dedicated to remembering, acknowledging and celebrating hip-hop’s impassioned presence in the Beaver State.The purpose of the event is to expose the scene to the many uninformed citizens of Oregon, hoping that it’ll broaden Oregon hip-hop’s audience, according to Michael T. Agnew.  Agnew has dedicated much of his life towards promoting, producing and managing a large portion of the scene.

He is the director of the acclaimed documentary “Lifting As We Climb.” Agnew told the Emerald: “I think many people only listen to mainstream hip-hop and often miss out on great talent right here in their own backyard…if Oregon people knew more about the talent around them maybe they would learn to appreciate our own hip-hop scene here.”

The event begins with a panel discussion with individuals that have been pivotal to the growth and sustainment of the Portland hip-hop scene: Mic Crenshaw, an Oregon hip-hop legend and social activist; Meezilini Tha Messenger, a veteran Christian rapper in the Oregon community; and Agnew. The panel will discuss the four main concepts of hip-hop — emceeing, graffiti art, breakdancing and DJing — in the context of our state. They’ll also discuss the past, the present and the future of hip-hop in Oregon.

After discussing the ins-and-outs of Oregon hip-hop, Crenshaw and Meezilini will give the audience a taste of their music. Crenshaw is one of the most respected rappers and spoken word poets in the Pacific Northwest: He’s won the Portland Poetry Slam Championship and was named the Best Portland Hip-Hop Artist in 2016 by Willamette Week. Meezilini The Messenger is a passionate rapper who combines the 808s and hi-hats of conventional hip-hop with themes of religion and faith. The two performances will likely be many audience members’ first taste of Oregon hip-hop, and it’ll be two of Portland’s finest offering the first impression.

A preview of Agnew’s film, “Lifting As We Climb,” will be shown after the performances. The documentary attempts to explore the ambitions, struggles and dreams of Oregon hip-hop artists, producers, promoters and industry professionals. It delves into Oregon hip-hop history, and offers insight for what’s to come. It took Agnew 10 years to produce the film, and 80 individuals were interviewed in the filmmaking process.

“History is important, so I made this movie to show Oregon and the masses that hip-hop culture is real,” Agnew said.

After the musical performances and movie preview, Agnew will answer the audience’s questions in a Q&A session. “Lifting As We Climb” will be available on the Oregon Historical Society’s website soon after the night is over. Once Agnew gives his final answer, the night will be done, hopefully giving Oregonians enough of their own hip-hop to keep them coming back for more.

Doors open at WOW Hall at 7 p.m. There will be a $5 suggested donation.

Follow Jordan on Twitter @montero_jor.

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