A Hip Hop History Lesson

Come one, come all to A.W.O.L.’s generational mash-up of music, politics and self expression.

For the third consecutive year, the youth-oriented nonprofit organization All Walks of Life, Inc. will present its Hip-Hop History Play—an elaborate musical production that features more than 50 local young people and charts important phases in the development of the hip- hop genre.

In years past, the play has detailed the creation and development of the hip-hop genre through different historical eras. In the play’s first year, performers recreated important milestones from genre’s history, and portrayed the emergence of such hip-hop notables as Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC and Tupac Shakur, among others. Last year, the play revisited the African tribal griots who originated the oral storytelling practices that would go on to inspire countless MCs.

This year, the play will present The Civil Rights Generation Meets the Hip Hop Generation, an explosion of music, politics and self-expression that intends to dispel myths held by people of the Civil Rights era who believe hip-hop music degrades women, emphasizes sex and demoralizes human behavior. “The reason I felt it was important was…I felt like our generation needed to step up to the [Civil Rights generation] and prove ourselves to them, to show the correlation between the two,” says A.W.O.L. CEO Tony Jordan. “The fight is the same and the goal is the same.”

Created and run by Tony and DaVena Jordan, A.W.O.L. is dedicated to providing a positive environment and creative outlet for young people, using arts education to promote responsibility, self- respect and hope. Both the organization and the play are sponsored in part by the City of Savannah and United Way of the Coastal Empire, among others; and in partnership with the Spitfire Poetry Group and the Abeni Cultural Arts Group. The play is traditionally held in February to coincide with Black History Month and encourage open dialogue and education through the performing arts.

During the play’s two daytime performances, which have sold out in years past, schools in Savannah, Charleston and Jacksonville are invited to bring students to see the play and are given a Classroom Instructional Guide that includes activities that focus on the historical content of the play, the Civil Rights movement of the South and its role in the Hip-Hop movement. As with all of A.W.O.L.’s endeavors, audience members are guaranteed a good time, and you never know—you might just learn something, too.