Berklee International Hip-Hop Symposium Spotlights Local Artists, Entrepreneurs

SAMMUS, DJ Troy Frost, and DJ WhySham are among featured guest speakers for the third annual event.

February 23, 2024

Black feminist rapper and producer SAMMUS headlines the keynote event at the International Hip-Hop Symposium.

José Ginarte

Berklee will host the third annual International Hip-Hop Symposium, an event that gathers globally recognized hip-hop artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs to connect students with industry innovators and celebrate the cultural impact of hip-hop across the globe. The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Thursday, March 7, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at David Friend Recital Hall in Boston.

Headlining this year’s program is a keynote conversation with Black feminist rapper, producer, and scholar Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, known by her stage name SAMMUS. Lumumba-Kasongo is currently the David S. Josephson Assistant Professor of Music at the Brown Arts Institute and has produced three full-length albums, including her most recent release, Pieces in Space, which charted on Billboard. She also serves as the director of audio at Glow Up Games, the first women-of-color-led video game studio, and is a member of the KEEPERS, an archival project mapping the international contributions of women and girls across hip-hop’s 50-year history. Lumumba-Kasongo will discuss her work as an acclaimed independent artist within a myriad of hip-hop spaces, her vision of incorporating science and technology into her projects, and her philosophies on advancing hip-hop curricula.

“We always strive to make valuable contributions to and learn from hip-hop culture. The lineup for the third annual running of the symposium is reflective of the significant ways we are seeing the hip-hop landscape continue to evolve, elevating the artistry of changemakers from multiple backgrounds,” said event founder Toki Wright, chair of the Professional Music Department. “Our goal with this event is to offer students a chance to engage individuals at the center of this change who have a unique perspective on what it means to create and sustain success in this industry. We are honored and ecstatic to host this impressive cohort of hip-hop artists and connectors.”

The symposium will also convene a diverse panel of local DJs and hip-hop entrepreneurs for a discussion about how hip-hop has continued to evolve on both the creative and business side of the industry. Featured speakers include Boston native DJ WhySham, who is a DJ for the Boston Celtics and a recent Recording Academy inductee; Roxbury native, artist, educator, and event curator DJ Troy Frost, who founded the hip-hop and wellness event series Purple Produce; and DJ and event curator Brandy Channel, who is the founder and gallery director of NOSA (Nubian Open Studios for the Arts), a community arts initiative in Nubian Square.

In addition to the guest artists, student Kammeron Frost will perform a short set of original works. The Berklee Hip-Hop Club will then host a beat battle, with student producers and DJs facing off head-to-head in a friendly competition judged by peers, faculty members, and special guests.

“With our event positioned right after Black History Month and at the early part of Women’s History Month, we are proud to have a symposium that features both female- and queer-identifying artists, each of them positive disruptors making a real change,” said event producer Najwa Aswad. “As a DJ myself, I owe so much of my inspiration to hip-hop. It is reaffirming to see so many unique identities stepping up as leaders within the space and spearheading many of the most innovative movements within the genre. I am excited to learn from these talented artists alongside our students.”

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