P.A.T.H. to Wisdom

"I've always seen myself opening and running a hip-hop college or a hip-hop school of some sort," says Miami MC Brimstone127.

Now the tireless preserver of hip-hop history is one step closer to his goal — and local heads of legal age are going to be jealous they're no longer in high school. This June 3 marks the beginning of the inaugural edition of P.A.T.H.

The first of its kind in Florida, the month-long summer camp is aimed at deserving youth ages 14 to 18, and dedicated to passing on the elements of true hip-hop culture: breakdancing, urban art, DJing, MCing, and philosophy.


P.A.T.H.|hip-hop summer camp

P.A.T.H. is eight years in the making. It's an outgrowth of Brim's previous attempts to set up a hip-hop program through Miami Dade College's continuing education department. Earlier this year, Miami Light Project took up the cause and secured grant money and sponsorship. As a result, the program, based at the Miami Light Project's space at 3000 Biscayne Blvd., will be accessible to kids far outside the usual privileged day-camp demographic. Of the group's expected 40 to 50 campers ("hip-hoppas" in P.A.T.H. parlance), 35 will receive full scholarships (tuition is otherwise $500) and transportation vouchers. And there's free lunch.

Each camp day will begin with a morning "open cipher" of dancing, drawing, or whatever else students want to focus on. "It's like a party every day," Brimstone says. From 10 a.m. to noon, the teens will attend a class about their element of choice for the day. And the names of the instructors, known as "teachas" at the camp, will be instantly recognizable to longtime followers of the local hip-hop scene.

"Two out of the four teachers are women, and that wasn't my plan, but it just kind of shaped up," says Brimstone. "Some people will be like, 'We need to have two women, one black teacher.' I didn't do it like that, but it ended up being like that, which is beautiful."

After lunch comes a hip-hop history lesson — courtesy of Brimstone himself, "instructor of hip-hop history and philosophy" — a film, and a discussion. With 20 days of camp, that's a lot of time to get deep, from classics such as Wild Style — already planned for day one — to recent, serious fare such as Bling, a documentary that traces contemporary hip-hop to the African diamond trade. And although he can't reveal any big names until camp begins, Brimstone promises a few surprise star guests will drop by to aid the discussions. Finally, at the end of every day comes another party hour, with a second open cipher.

And, of course, the camp culminates with a showcase for family and friends, as well as an awards presentation. "Basically I want the kids to learn that if it's something they love and they feel, then they can make a living with it," says Brim. "If you love this culture, or an element of this culture, we're gonna give you the tools that it takes."

Applications to P.A.T.H. are due Friday, May 23. Afterward, if space is still available, applications will be considered as late as May 30. To request an application or more information, e-mail Brimstone127 at info@brimstone127.com or visit www.myspace.com/pathmiami.

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