This curated conversation uncovers the historical and continuing contributions of women in Hip Hop.
Hart House is pleased to be joining forces with the Fresh, Bold and So Def program at the Universal Hip Hop Museum on this initiative and applauds the tireless work of the museum’s visionaries and volunteers to bring the story of Hip Hop to light and to give it its rightful due in a museum setting.
Honouring Joan Morgan’s concept of “Hip Hop feminism,” this event will showcase three incredible voices, trailblazers and beacons of knowledge who refuse to be tempered, marginalized or erased. Their shared experiences and knowledge of Hip Hop will have you questioning what you thought you knew about the genre.
Truth can’t be found in the voice of any one rapper but in the juxtaposition of many. The keys that unlock the riches of contemporary black female identity lie not in choosing Latifah over Lil’ Kim, or even Foxy Brown over Salt-N-Pepa. They lie at the magical intersection where those contrary voices meet—the juncture where ‘truth’ is no longer black and white but subtle, intriguing shades of gray.Joan Morgan
Fresh, Bold and So Def (FBSD): Women in Hip Hop
Fresh, Bold and So Def (FBSD) is led by Kashema Hutchins, a Ph. D candidate and Universal Hip-Hop Museum staffer. It began as a Hip-Hop intervention project for women of all ages to empower, cultivate and inspire. FBSD builds upon the foundation laid by the Womanhood Learning Project launched in 2007 at New York University by the Hip-Hop Association and a collective of women who joined forces to tell the story of Hip-Hop as they know it. The goal of the initiative is to document women’s contributions and achievements and build a canon using memorabilia and artifacts.
Moderator and Panelist
Dr. Francesca D’Amico-Cuthbert
Francesca D’Amico-Cuthbert is an award-winning historian of American and Canadian Hip Hop culture, the creative industries, and the music marketplace. She holds a Ph.D. in History from York University in Toronto, Canada (2019) and has served as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto (2020-2022) and the University of Calgary (2022-2023). Her doctoral research traced how American emcees in the era of mass incarceration constructed complex ethnographies of urban spaces, transformed dispositions of power, and unmasked the modes and mechanisms of a persistent and haunting coloniality in the afterlives of American slavery. Her recent postdoctoral research explores Canadian Hip Hop’s relationship to national mythmaking, commerce, anti-Black market segmentation and the availability of state revenue streams and marketplace exposure. Her research has been published in: #HipHopEd: The Compilation on Hip Hop Education, The Journal of Canadian Historical Association, Canadian Journal of History, Musicworks, and The Dance Current.
As an Hip Hop educator Francesca has taught several courses on the histories of popular culture, including “Hip Hop and the City” – a course that explores Hip Hop’s evolution from a translocal urban art form to a global commodity. In addition to being a multi-disciplinary creative with training in vocal and instrumental music, dance, and the dramatic arts, Francesca also serves as the Chief Research Officer at the New York City based Hip Hop Hop Education Center where she works collaboratively to establish Hip Hop Education standards and the professionalization of the field.
Curator, Archivist, Educator, Media Producer, Social Entrepreneur
Colombian-American futurist Martha Diaz (MD) is an award-winning community organizer, media producer, archivist, curator, educator, and social entrepreneur.
One of Women’s eNews distinguished 21 Leaders for the 21st Century, she has traversed the Hip Hop entertainment industry, the public arts and education sector, and the academy over the last 30 years. MD has produced and consulted on numerous Hip Hop media projects and founded the highly acclaimed Hip-Hop Odyssey (H2O) International Film Festival, the first festival of its kind. Through her archival projects and publications of research reports, books, and curricula, she has chronicled Hip-Hop history to preserve its cultural value and memory.
In 2010, MD launched the Hip-Hop Education Center to cultivate and professionalize the burgeoning field of Hip-Hop and Education, and most recently developed Hip-Hop CU (CommUniversity), a virtual school. She is currently a Senior Civic Media Fellow at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, Visiting Scholar at Virginia Union University, and Chair of Archives, Curatorial, and Education Committee at the Universal Hip Hop Museum.
DJ Lynnée Denise
Professor, Black Music Scholar
Lynnée Denise was shaped as a DJ by her parent’s record collection. She’s an artist, scholar, and writer whose work reflects on underground cultural movements, the 1980s, migration studies, theories of escape, and electronic music of the African Diaspora.
Lynnée Denise coined the phrase ‘DJ Scholarship’ to re-position the role of the DJ from a party purveyor to an archivist, cultural custodian and information specialist of music with critical value. Through interactive workshops, lectures and presentations at universities, conferences and performance venues, Lynnée Denise harnesses music as a medium for vital public dialogue on how to transform the way that music of the Black Atlantic is understood in its social context and beyond entertainment. Lynnée Denise’s work on DJ Scholarship has been featured at prestigious institutions such as the Broad Museum, the Tate Modern, Savvy Contemporary Gallery Berlin, Goldsmiths University of London, Iziko South African Museum, Stanford, Yale, NYU, and Princeton University. Her writing has been featured in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Black Scholar Journal, The Journal of Popular Music Studies, and as part of anthologies including Women Who Rock, and Outside the XY: Queer Black and Brown Masculinity.
Through global residencies supporting her research and production work, she has focused on Black expatriates in Europe, such as James Baldwin, and on South African music in the post apartheid context. She produced the first and only Michael Jackson conference (After the Last Dance) with The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The School of Prince with the Los Angeles Public Library, and Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace: From Detroit to Watts, the first conference dedicated solely to the musical life of The Queen of Soul with the UCLA African-American Studies Department.
DJ Lynnée Denise is a product of the Historically Black Fisk University with a MA from the historically radical San Francisco State University Ethnic Studies department. In 2019, she was granted an MFA degree in Creative Nonfiction Writing from the University of California Riverside. With support from the Jerome Foundation Travel Grant, The Astrae Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Idea Capital, Residency BiljmAIR (Netherlands) and The Rauschenberg Artists as Activists Grant, she has been able to resource her performative research on a local, national and global level. Beyond the dance floor, her work provides "Entertainment with a Thesis." She’s was a lecturer at California State University’s Pan African Studies Department and the Chicano Studies Department for four academic years 2015-2019. Lynnée Denise will join the UCLA Department of African American Studies as a lecturer in the fall of 2019 and she’s been invited to serve as a Visiting Artist at Stanford University’s Institute of Diversity in the Arts. Her current book project, Why Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton Matters will be published in 2020 by The University of Texas Press.Website
Student, CCIT and Women & Gender Studies
Kayja is a fifth-year student at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), studying a double major in Communications, Culture, Information, & Technology (CCIT) and Women & Gender Studies. As a young black woman, she enjoys learning about how intersectionality and technology go hand in hand.
She’s also the President of Caribbean Connections, which is a cultural student group at UTM that strives to provide students with interactive spaces and opportunities while sharing Caribbean Culture.Website