A series of open mic hip hop shows have been going down at The Old Miami every Tuesday to benefit 5 Elements Gallery, (@5egallery) while the gallery is under construction. I went to the event last night to support their fundraising efforts for a new venture they are working on with the Justice Coalition, to provide computer access, wi-fi and digital media classes for Detroiters. 5E serves the community as a talent incubator, and I believe that supporting the foundation is a key element to saving the city.
I got a chance to meet Piper Carter, (@pipercarter) who is both an influencer in the community and a world-famous fashion photographer. Recognition of her work can be found in French Vogue, British Elle, and The New York Times, but she still calls Detroit her home and believes that Detroit is in the middle of another Renaissance.
Piper and I began politicking a little about hip hop, Detroit, and all the projects that we are involved with that are geared toward moving the city forward. But, it’s very difficult to keep her attention, as she glided about the room from social circle to social circle, dancing, conversing and spreading her good vibes across the whole joint. Her spirit infects everyone, and inspires us to do better in our own lives and in our community.
The show was hosted by two female emcees, Nikki Nak and Mahogany Jones, who held it down in between acts and really did their thing. The show focuses on showcasing female talent in hip hop, to provide a balance to the misogyny that has permeated the culture for too long. We enjoyed a special performance by female emcee Invincible, (@invincibledet) as well as a beat showcase by producer Doc Illingsworth. (@illingsworth) DJ Sicari, (@djsicari5e) founder of 5E, and DJ Mel Wonder (@djmel_wonder) held it down on the 1s and 2s while aspiring emcees took control of the mic.
Many talented artists shared their skills with us, but it was no ordinary open mic. While Detroit’s underground emcees worked the mic, there were many forms of expression going on up on that stage, from poetry and spoken word, singing, even a little karaoke session, everyone shared a small piece of themselves and it all provided for a very captivating show.
What really impressed me, however, was that everywhere I looked, people were creating something. It’s typical to see a small crowd in the back corner at a hip hop show, with a freestyle battle going on, but here I found that when someone was expressing themselves off-stage, there was always someone holding a camera, or writing down notes. These videos and notes will eventually turn into content that can be put on the web and shared with the world. I thought to myself, “They all get it!” What’s the use of a back-corner freestyle battle or political rant when only 10 people are going to hear it, and most likely soon forget. It’s important to use our talent to create, and 5E Gallery stresses this to its members.
After seeing a small glimpse of what 5E Gallery has going on, I decided to become a member. The membership cost is $50, and goes a long way toward helping the gallery serve the community. In return you get a newsletter, discounted admission to 5E events, and a network of support for any creative and artistic ideas you may have of your own. It’s a great cause that I am proud to be a part of. Next Tuesday’s event will be held at the Old Miami again, but if you can’t make it out to a show, please consider donating to their Kickstart Project today.