Saw a Hip-hop Tribute last night in Chicago–you should too

At the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts (777 N. Green)–I got to see Theori Media’s production of “I still love her,” by Wendell  Tucker. It’s a fun night of “edu-tainment”–music, words and amazing dancing– showcasing the “positivity” of hip-hop. See it if you can before it disappears. The show is running through 27 March.

Mr. Tucker has an ambitious project, the Theori Fine Arts Center, that would revitalize South Stony Island Avenue in Chicago, Illinois (where I used to teach). It looks at a dire economy artistically–at the heart of his plan is culture-generation. Theori had been active in the running for Pepsi Co.’s “refresh everything” campaign in February (which injects its own corporate stimulus dollars into worthy projects crowd-sourced by the masses–are you listening, Barack Obama?), but unfortunately the group lost. If they were registered again for March I would definitely vote for them. Their vision is hopeful but practical.

You will notice that I am not extolling its particulars, but that is because, as a white middle-class suburbanite during the 90s, I had little direct exposure to hip-hop culture and am thus ignorant of much of it. So many of the names and references escaped me.  However, the music and excellent choreography by Jeremey Noah (who was a solid actor, too) engaged me on a basic human level. I was up and dancing before the show’s curtain.

But its messages–of the community-healing power of improvised DIY story-telling and frenetic art and street dancing, of the need for self-reliant, entrepreneurial artists–these ideas resonated with me, a democracy-believing (if white) American. Good luck to Tucker and his talented collaborators.

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