BY KATIE MATTESON
When Nick Ramsey lived in Milwaukee, he attended events that showcased the elements of Hip-Hop (breakdancing, graffiti, DJing and MCing) and he dreamed about bringing a similar event to his hometown.
He connected with the practitioners he knew in Racine and the Origins of Hip Hop was born in 2012.
The founders will present Origins of Hip-Hop 8 on Saturday, Aug. 17 from 4-10 p.m. at Smoke’d on the Water, 3 Fifth St. in Racine. Admission is free (donations accepted) and all ages are welcome.
Ramsey stressed that the expertise offered by each of the founders creates the collaborative force behind the event that brings the community together to learn about the history and culture of Hip-Hop while providing a platform for people to participate.
“When people think about Hip-Hop they think about Rap, the genre of music,” Ramsey explained. “Hip-Hop is a culture, first and foremost.”
Willy Reynoso, owner of Willy’s Sole Kitchen in Racine, is in charge of breakdancing. He works with local Hip-Hop school Sweatshop Movement to organize the battles, during which dancers compete against each other in front of three judges. Kids under 6 have their own competition, while the battles for the older dancers are mixed. There’s also an all-style battle where dancers can choose any style of dance. Cash prizes are awarded to the winners.
Reynoso also organizes the professional breakdancers who perform and teach moves to the B-Boys and B-Girls in attendance.
“I love that this event shows the positive aspects of Hip-Hop,” Reynoso said. “It’s so great to see kids of all ages and colors teaching each other and engaged in friendly competition.”
Racine native Dario Wilson, Kindergarten teacher and professional DJ, is in charge of DJing for the event. He comes equipped with the experience gained from spinning records since he was 13 and presents a full range of music, from the old school Hip-Hop from the late 1970s and early 1980s through the contemporary sounds.
Wilson enjoys sharing his knowledge of the genre’s history with “the younger generation” and gives kids the opportunity to operate the turntables and “scratch a record” for the dancers.
“I want kids to embrace the celebration of all the elements of Hip-Hop and instill pride in their community,” Wilson said. “The event presents Racine Hip-Hop on a large scale.”
Dee Hutch, owner of Black Hand Tattoo Gallery in Racine, is in charge of graffiti. He designs the limited edition t-shirt for each year’s event, as well as organizing demonstrations by graffiti artists.
Kids are encouraged to participate by painting on the large boards with water-based paint markers.
Caleb Robinson, high school teacher and owner of Smoke’d on the Water, provides the beautiful lakefront venue and plenty of food and drink options.
“Hip-Hop sometimes gets a bad rap, but it’s really very positive and brings everyone together,” Robinson said. “We’ve created a safe space and we’ve never had a problem in eight years.”
Ramsey, who owns Family Power Music in Racine, is the MC. His role is to engage the audience and share his passion and contagious enthusiasm for the Hip-Hop culture throughout the afternoon and evening.
“The founders do a lot, but I also want to credit and dozens of other practitioners and business owners who rally to make it happen,” Ramsey said. “That’s to be commended.”
The event also receives support from BONK! and the Racine Public Library, as well as the sponsorship of The Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation.
In addition, Longshot Vinyl, 324 Sixth St. in Racine, will host a fundraiser for the event on Thursday, Aug. 8 from 7-10 p.m. There will be free admission, but donations will be encouraged, as well as purchases of drinks, food and event t-shirts (including those from past years). The 1983 classic Hip-Hop flick, “Wild Style,” will also be shown on Longshot Vinyl’s new projection screen.
For more information about the event or the fundraiser, call Ramsey at (262) 598-4803.