Multi-Faceted 2017 Event Hosted Concerts, Block Party, Pivotal Sessions on Cannabis, Community Policing, Tech, Media, Music Marketing, and The State of Hip-Hop. SOURCE360 Also Shows Community Partnerships Work.

The 4th Annual SOURCE360 Festival & Conference was held August 10 – 14 in downtown Brooklyn, N.Y. Once again, SOURCE360 brought together members of the local community, elected officials, artists, business executives, media mavens, performers, and other creative professionals to further the conversation around the cultural benefits, political significance, social applications, and artistic value of Hip-Hop culture. Further, SOURCE360 created a powerful laboratory for new music and ideas, thanks to multi-faceted programming featuring live concerts, a block party, business networking session and pivotal sessions designed to address myriad issues and industries.

Thursday: Public Policy & Tech Solutions

Staging most of SOURCE360’s opening-day events at the historic Brooklyn Borough Hall on Thursday was a conscious decision to create an atmosphere of community access and inclusion. “We presented more business and public policy panels at Borough Hall because it is a public governmental building and in the spirit of public interest, it was important and appropriate to show the impact of the culture on public policy and public safety in that space,” notes acclaimed attorney and owner of The Source Magazine, L. Londell McMillan, executive producer of the SOURCE360 Festival & Conference.

Thursday’s schedule included the daylong SOURCE360 Tech Hackathon, sponsored by The Source Magazine and Con Edison was presented in partnership with Blue 1647 and Digital Girl, Inc., which drew high praise from parents, educators, and attendees, kids from grades 6-12, learned how to apply their passion and energy to creating tech applications. Local college students served as student mentors, fostering an atmosphere of giving back to the community, a major theme and highlight of SOURCE360. “My kids love this program. It is very encouraging to see how The Source Magazine and SOURCE360 gives back to the community and youth through Hip-Hop,” says Sharon Williams, parent to two children selected for the SOURCE360 youth program.

The SOURCE360 Speaker Series also kicked off on Thursday at Borough Hall with Tech: New Age of Digital Music, Marketing & Making Money, a pivotal session that offered the jam-packed room an extraordinary inside look at new age technology and commerce with an A-list panel of business and creative experts, including Kedar Frederic of TuneCore, Corey Llewellyn of Digiwaxx, Yomi Desalu of BET, and Wendy Washington of This Is Dope!. Moderated by Lisa Evers, host of Street Soldiers and FOX 5 TV, attendees were educated on tech entrepreneurship, pathways to distributing and marketing their product or content, and other essential tools for success.

SOURCE360 invited key members of local law enforcement along with community representatives for the timely Thursday session, Community & Policing: Innovative Solutions to Increase Trust, moderated by Coss Marte, a formerly incarcerated man who reformed his life to become an inspirational entrepreneur. The panel included founder of Assistant Chief of Patrol Brooklyn Borough North Jeffrey Maddrey, NAACP’s Brooklyn Chapter President L. Joy Williams, Deputy Chief of Staff Brooklyn D.A. Wayne K. Williams, Brooklyn Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams (a longtime advocate of police reform), and the founder of NYC Together Dana Rachlin. The group covered current legislative issues—including stop & frisk, body cameras for officers, right-to-know policies—as well as a discussion on whether police union advocacy creates more animosity within the community at large. This powerful session seemed to open up much-needed opportunities for dialogue and ongoing resolutions. 

I was pleased to see the amount of police officers there to participate in what was an important discussion. We need to continue the dialogue and reform the role that law enforcement plays in public safety or we will continue to have an adversarial relationship with police officers. I’m thankful that SOURCE360 exists and that it continues the work of empowering people to take control of the culture they created and continue to expand the role and influence of Hip-Hop beyond beats and rhymes.
– L. Joy Williams.

“I think there are certain issues of public safety and public policy that people with a Hip-Hop mentality and inner-city insight can resolve,” says McMillan. “There is a core competency issue; a lack of cultural competency within certain halls of power that don’t take into consideration cultural and Hip-Hop insights, and this perspective can be innovatively helpful in reforming and protecting the community.”

Another notable part of the Speaker Series on Thursday was Business Opportunities and Regulations of the Cannabis Industry, moderated by Gia Morón of  Women Grow. The panelists included April Walker of Walker Wear, Rani Soto of I Deserve Canna, Kassandra Frederique of New York State Drug Policy Alliance, and Marvin Washington, former New York Jet player and Super Bowl veteran. The panel addressed pathways to entrepreneurship in addition to reconfirming marijuana’s benefits as an aid to health and wellness. “The cannabis business is going to be a multi-billion industry, don’t just stand around and watch it grow without checking into it from a business point of view,” said April Walker, Hip-Hop icon and serial entrepreneur.

Thank you Source 360 for including the cannabis industry panel on the speaker series. We are seeing an evolution happening in the business market. The legal cannabis space is slated to make $50 billion by 2026. African Americans make up 1% in this industry. As this business market continues to grow it is imperative we connect with communities of color to advise them of the opportunities. From advocacy to growers to ancillary businesses like accounting, finance, legal, marketing, technology, communications, packaging, security and much more. It’s much bigger than most imagine and we must get involved. Thank you Source 360 for providing us a platform to share our insight.
– Gia Morón

Friday: Glam, Media & Music

On Friday, the Source360 Speaker Series panels at BRIC Arts|Media House focused on Hip-Hop’s infiltration into visual media—from film and television to fashion and beauty, as well as its roots. The opening session, Glam Factor & How To Make It Work was presented in conjunction with the SOURCE sister brand, HerSOURCE. The panelists included Monica Veloz, Kahh Spence, Marshalle Crockett, and Andrea Fairweather. The group discussed and emphasized the fact that women have always been a vital part of Hip-Hop culture, influencing beauty and fashion trends and creating an economic boom that shows signs of further growth.

The standing-room-only session Lights, Camera, Action: Hip-Hop Culture In Cinema & Television was moderated by noted photographer Johnny Nunez and featured filmmaker Benny Boom, pioneering artist and executive producer Roxanne Shanté, writer and filmmaker Thembisa Mshaka, Revolt executive Rahman Dukes, and actors Dorian Missick and Eden Duncan-Smith. The group discussed ways in which those steeped in Hip-Hop culture are now being allowed to tell their own stories at a time when there is an explosion of interest in these narratives. The panelists also discussed aspects of Roxanne Shante’s upcoming biopic, set to star Nia Long and panelist Eden Duncan-Smith.  “I find that a lot of people they’ll come up to me and they’ll say you know what Shante your so down to earth, and I said you know what that’s why you will find me at an event like this one making sure that people get that feeling,” said Roxanne Shanté.

The SOURCE Latino: Bridging the Gap Of Hispanic & Urban Culture panel acknowledged the role that Latinos and Afro-Latinos have played in the history and culture of Hip-Hop, especially within the pillars of graffiti art and break dancing, in addition to music. Moderated by Len. Boogs of Power 105.1/Sirius Shade 45, the panel included musicians Max Santos and SP The Producer, as well as a live performance by Latino Hip-Hop artists Mr. Paradise and Melymel. The discussion served as a reminder of the contributions of the Latino community and a call to a more unified approach moving forward. It was great, it had a lot of good information speaking about the things that are going on today with the blend of Latin and urban,” shared Mr. Paradise after the panel.

This is a magazine that I’ve been seeing since I was so young so for me it’s a very big move to be out here and share knowledge and my music.
– Melymel

One of the hottest “tickets” at the conference was the SOURCE360 Master Class Power Talks with Master P, CEO of No Limit, and Debra Lee, CEO of BET. Held at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, a relatively new theatrical space in downtown Brooklyn, the game-changing Q&A, conducted by L. Londell McMillan, revealed how these two different executives are part of the same culture but arrived from different directions, though they share many commonalities. Both the cable broadcasting executive and the music and media entrepreneur shared jewels of wisdom about business, keys to achievement, Hip-Hop culture, and balancing the drive for success with maintaining a rich family life. The event was live-streamed through all social media channels, offering the public a chance to witness and be inspired by the personal journeys of these two inspiring moguls.

Hip-Hop fans got a high-voltage double dose of entertainment Friday night at the highly-anticipated Unsigned Hype session, where up-and-coming Hip-Hop artists got a chance to showcase their skills, as well as at the Mic Check: Gen Next sessions featuring popular on-the-comeup stars Casanova, Jay Critch, Quadir Lateef, Phresher, Chris Rivers (son of the late Big Pun), Axel Leon, and others.

Saturday: In The Park

Kids, families, and the general public enjoyed a day of outdoor activities and live performances at the SOURCE360 Block Party, held Saturday at Brooklyn’s Rockwell Place. The awesome gathering, sponsored by Toyota, offered an array of activities, including a photo booth and a jumbo video screen for attendees to watch themselves doing them. In addition to performances by local dance troupes, an art exhibition by Protect Yo Heart, there was a Kids 360 talent show for ages 16 and under. Also hitting the stage were King Combs (son of Sean Puffy Combs), C.J. Wallace (son of the late Notorious B.I.G.), Nitty Scott MC, Donshea Hopkins, Kyla Imani, and Renee Neufville from ‘90s duo Zhané, and more. Later Saturday evening, Brand Nubian presented another performance of their classic hits at BRIC, along with some entertaining battle rap performances. “We support SOURCE360 and The Source because it represents the culture of Hip-Hop in an honest way,” says Lord Jamar of the Brand Nubian. “It was a blessing. I always looked up to The Source magazine, thought it was always dope so I’m glad to be a part of it,”said King Combs. 

This is the one thing that I love about The Source and SOURCE360, it stays connected to all the independent artists

– Deb Antney

In addition, the final installment of the SOURCE360 Speaker Series was Saturday’s panel The State of Hip-Hop: 40 Years and Now Leaders of Pop Culture, moderated by L. Londell McMillan, which was held outdoors at the Block Party. The panelists included Charlamagne Tha God of The Breakfast Club, Deb Antney, artist manager and TV personality of Love & Hip-Hop, and Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian. The group engaged in an honest and loving conversation about how Hip-Hop is faring regarding creativity, style, media exposure, and its impact on the community in general. The panelists also discussed what artists and other creatives can do to give more to listeners and the next generation of creative talent. Bringing the discussion outdoors as part of the block party added a new dimension of engagement with the Brooklyn-centered crowd.

Saturday night’s planned tribute to the late Prodigy of Mobb Deep, who passed away earlier this year, morphed into an open mic tribute that embraced the talents of those in the audience. As special guest DJs spun classic tracks from Prodigy’s recorded output, attendees were invite to share words, wisdom, and rhymes inspired by the late Hip-Hop star, turning it into a truly all-inclusive salute.

Monday: Old School Fun Day

With so many inspiring and informative events throughout the weekend, it was only fitting for SOURCE360 to wrap up on Monday night (August 14) with a Legends of Hip-Hop live outdoor concert featuring Big Daddy Kane, Chubb Rock, Das EFX, and Special Ed. This free, community-oriented celebration of the history of Hip-Hop at Brooklyn’s Wingate Field, was presented in partnership with the Office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams as part of the Wingate Concert Series and attracted thousands of revelers. “We are here, Wingate Park, Brooklyn, culmination of Hip-Hop, this how we all started,” said Chubb Rock.

The 4th Annual SOURCE360 Festival & Conference hit its marks in embracing diverse audiences, showcasing every aspect of Hip-Hop culture—including arts and culture, music, film and television, fashion, business, and digital technology—and spotlighting the incredibly vibrant arts and business community of Brooklyn.  

“Hip-Hop is now 40 years old, so it must be both more responsible and better appreciated as the global force that it is,” states McMillan. “SOURCE360 is pioneering a creative and innovative expression of Hip-Hop love. We are thrilled and excited to bring this package of content and community celebration to people in a way where they can receive the positive aspects of Hip-Hop culture and the love that Hip-Hop can generate—not just the music and business—but the culture too.”

If you thought this year’s event was off the chain, wait until next year – when SOURCE360 activates its fifth edition with additional planned conferences in Atlanta and Los Angeles, and a celebration of the 30th anniversary of The Source Magazine. As the brand expands, so does its ability to burnish the reputation of Hip-Hop.

“We’re changing the conversation,” adds McMillan. “We’re repositioning the perspective because Hip-Hop is like anything else, it’s how you use it that makes the difference in the world.”