Madison mayor proposes task force to encourage hip-hop scene

The AP

The mayor of Madison is proposing a task force aimed at making Wisconsin’s capital a more welcoming place, especially for hip-hop artists and audiences.

Mayor Paul Soglin’s proposed Equity in Music and Entertainment task force comes after years of efforts by the hip-hop community to address city policies and policing, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

“There is a vibrant local scene,” Soglin said. “But their ability to reach audiences is not as good as that scene.”

Madison has an active community of hip-hop artists. But in the past, some live music venues have added what some say is excess security for events or dropped hip-hop events altogether after fights, gunfire or other violence at shows.

“To have the mayor introduce (the task force) is a breakthrough,” said Mark “ShaH” Evans, a founder of the Urban Community Arts Network, which organizes shows, school workshops and community events for adults and youth. “How can we fix this, not just for hip hop but for the whole local music scene?”

Pascal “DJ Pain 1” Bayley, a DJ and record producer from Madison, said the task force is long coming and necessary.

“There are no opportunities for hip-hop musicians to perform,” said Bayley, who has worked with artists such as Young Jeezy, 50 Cent, Ludacris and Public Enemy. “The (regulatory) climate with regard to hip-hop hasn’t changed at all. Actually, it’s gotten worse.”

The proposal is being reviewed by city committees with a decision by the City Council expected in April.