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Madison Arts Commission creates committee to give hip-hop a makeover
Brown says the committee will focus on "shedding a more positive light" on hip-hop acts.
Brown says the committee will focus on "shedding a more positive light" on hip-hop acts.

Hip-hop will return to several Madison music venues if a new group has its way. An ad hoc committee the Madison Arts Commission launched Tuesday will partner with venue owners, police, and members of the local hip-hop scene to improve the genre's image.

Commission member Anthony Brown II, a local R&B artist who performs as Anthony Lamarr, proposed the committee in response to anxiety venues have expressed following violence in the audience at a few hip-hop shows.

Some venues have increased security. Others have prohibited hip-hop performances, most recently the Frequency. After a fight just outside the downtown venue's doors on Jan. 29, landlord Larry Lichte began enforcing a "no hip-hop" clause in the lease.

Brown says the committee will focus on "shedding a more positive light" on hip-hop acts. This involves encouraging local clubs to book artists who stress positive messages.

"It is the people who are coming to these shows who are directly creating the problem," Brown wrote in a letter that was read aloud to the commission. "Negative messages tend to create negative results. We are attempting to change perceptions of an art form that has been getting a lot of blame for the bad choices [a few] individuals make."

Commission member Chris Taylor agrees, noting that there must be "a concerted effort to take the villainy out of the music."

The committee will consist of three commission members: Brown, Taylor and local musician Kia Karlen. The commission also discussed the possibility of making the hip-hop committee into an official city commission.

Brown expects that many community members will help return hip-hop artists to local stages.

"This whole table will be filled with people," he said Tuesday night, gesturing at the table where the commission met. "We will be able to lay the steps out of what we're going to do to make a change."

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