Pittsburgh’s hip-hop community forms board to support local acts
The shooting at a July 13 concert at Nova Place was the final straw for Jeff “DJ Chevy” Cobbs.
The Braddock native had already been working for a year on finding ways to recognize, resolve and prevent issues faced by the local hip-hop community. After a fight escalated and led to shooting at the all-ages North Side concert, he wanted to act.
Up until then, Cobbs said he’s never, in 35 years as part of the scene, witnessed or heard of anything more than a small fight at a local hip-hop concert. He wanted to try and make sure it never happened again.
Days after the nonfatal shooting, which resulted in the arrest of a 21-year-old Monroeville man, the Pittsburgh Independent Hip-Hop Resolution Board was formed.
The resolution board is made up of five members — local artists, producers and promoters — who want to build a better scene. They hope to prevent violence within the hip-hop community through acceptance, education and support for local hip-hop artists.
They plan to tackle issues like the lack of resources, opportunities and venues by things like sponsoring events where artists can make enough money to support themselves and their families, teaching business education to those wishing to pursue a career on a national level and seeking partnerships with organizations to house concerts.
Cobbs decided that board members would serve anonymously so they would not feel pressure from the public.
“It’s a good collection of people who’ve done many different things inside the hip-hop community.” he said.
Board members will hold their positions for one year while building the framework for the board. At the year mark, and every six months after, one person will drop off and one seat will open up for a new member. In total, each member, aside from the initial group, will serve terms for two and half years.
“I would like to see this board re-establish the community aspect of hip-hop in this city. The sharing, the caring, the communication. I think with its structure and with its dedication, that we can bring back that community,” Cobbs said.
The resolution board already has met several times since forming less than a month ago. One of its members — a born-and-bred Pittsburgh artist — said there’s little support for artists, and many don’t know how to take the next step in their careers. He said he hopes, by resources offered through the board, that everyone has the opportunity to achieve their musical dreams, regardless of their race or circumstances.
“I just want to be a part of something that’s going to affect people in a positive way,” he said.
In addition to the resolution board, a separate advisory board also was created. That board will bring the issues that need to be addressed to the resolution board. Anyone can join the advisory board, which currently exists as a Facebook group with the hopes to expand into something larger.
Cobbs will act as the liaison between the two boards.
Having some structure and organization within the scene will help fix the general public’s perception of hip-hop, Cobbs hopes. It’s not just for black people, and it’s not as it’s often depicted on television and in music videos, he said.
“It’s a universal music. That’s the beautiful thing. You’re entitled to it. If it’s something fun that you enjoy, please, by all means do it and be a part of the community,” he said.
Cobbs said most people who don’t have any inside knowledge of hip-hop automatically believe that it’s violent.
”Everything they know, assume or think is ‘these are guys that are doing drugs and shooting people’ and that’s not it. The stigma that we’re under is that hip-hop is a detriment to society, and it’s not. There’s a lot of beautiful people making great music and doing great things with their art and they’re completely overshadowed by the 6 o’clock news,” he said.
“It fits an agenda and we’re tired of it. There’s way more of us doing positive things than the guys tearing up the news.”
Kristina Serafini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kristina at 412-324-1405, [email protected] or via Twitter .