The twin forces behind Miami's two annual rap blowouts have decided to stop the bickering and just get along. Hoodstock, a music festival-and-seminar event sponsored by the hip-hop collective centered around DJ Raw Records, and the Peter Thomas Entertainment Group's How Can I Be Down? summit will be held concurrently over Columbus Day weekend. The former is being held Sunday, October 13, at Roberto Clemente Park in Wynwood; the latter runs today (Thursday) through October 14 at the Shore Club Hotel, 1901 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach. Hoodstock is also sponsoring a Hip-Hop Unification conference on Saturday, October 12, at the Ritz Plaza Hotel Ballroom, 1701 Collins Ave., hosted by Drunk Drew of Dark Science.

The problems began when Hoodstock staged its first two multiartist hip-hop concerts in 1994 and 1995 at the same time the Thomas shebang was holding its own industry-geared seminars and panels. Thomas assumed the young upstarts at DJ Raw were infringing on his territory, and to an extent, he was right. "To be honest, we took advantage of the fact that all these industry people were in town for How Can I Be Down," admits Peter Price, a Hoodstock organizer. "We tried to lead everyone over to Hoodstock, and it worked. But there was that conflict because of the events running at the same time. So this time we sat down [with Thomas] and worked it all out peacefully, like human beings, and agreed to work together, to help each other out."

In truth, the conflict between the two organizations never made much sense, for each serves different purposes. How Can I Be Down, which bills itself as an urban music conference, puts the emphasis on the workings of the music industry and how to survive in it. A roster of seminars, workshops, and discussion panels offers insight into everything from entertainment law and the importance of good management to distribution, promotion, and forming an independent label. Once you've paid your registration fee, you're also privy to a number of artist showcases (Ice Cube, Luther Campbell, Heltah Skeltah, Kokane, and the Notorious B.I.G. are among the myriad artists performing at this year's event), fashion shows, basketball tournaments, and a host of schmoozy cocktail parties.

"They're like the college and we're like the high school" is how Price compares How Can I Be Down? to Hoodstock, which boasts an annual lineup heavy with unsigned local performers and emphasizes what he calls the five elements of hip-hop: the gangsters, the breakers, the DJs, the MCs, and the graffiti artists. "We're getting these young artists ready to step into the big industry, then they're ready for Peter Thomas. People from record companies like to come down here and check out the young groups. That's how people get record deals." And Price stresses that Hoodstock organizers also try to show young blacks that their career options may be better than they think.

"We try to bring together all the kids in the neighborhood and give them a sense of what's out there for them. This is a poverty-stricken neighborhood where we do this, so we want them to see that there's more out there to do than what they usually see in the hood." Price adds that there will be no alcohol for sale at the event. "We had Budweiser and Presidente wanting to help sponsor this, but we turned them down because we're trying to do something positive and send out the right message."

The complete schedule for Hoodstock '96 was still being firmed up at press time, but confirmed artists include Fat Joe, the Bush Babees, Dark Science, Suga T, Chino X-L, G-Shorties, and the Boot Camp Click. The festival runs from noon to midnight; Roberto Clemente Park is located at SW 34th Street and 2nd Avenue. Admission is free.

-- By John Floyd


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