By Ethan Duran
Hip-Hop culture in Milwaukee has thrived for years in DIY venues, block parties and in basements, but not usually in downtown Milwaukee. Next Saturday, on July 28, TRUE Skool Inc. is partnering with the Marcus Center to bring a taste of Hip-Hop to the Peck Pavilion with a block party.
The event will be catered by Sazama’s River’s Edge Patio and each of the performers—the DJs, musicians and dancers—will be paid for. TRUE Skool Co-Executive Director Fidel Verdin says that the nonprofit receives their money from donations and funding from different foundations.
The True Skool block party will have several stages with local Milwaukee artists and TRUE Skool alums.
“It’s going to be an all ages event, not a beer fest.” Verdin said. “It’s something you can take your wife and kids to.”
This is the second year where the Marcus Center and TRUE Skool have worked together and held a block party at the Peck Pavilion. For Verdin, it’s a huge success to get Hip Hop into the mainstream. TRUE Skool started as a grassroots collective, usually throwing small block parties and small shows in the early 2000s. They have come a long way, expecting over 500 people to turn up to this year’s block party.
TRUE Skool Inc. is a Hip-Hop oriented, nonprofit group that involves youth with career building programs. It was formed 15 years ago from a mix of community members, artists and musicians. Now the collective offers after school programs and resources for high schoolers.
“We provide a network where kids can become artists, get a career and flourish,” he said. “We give the Marcus Center a lot of credit for collaborating with us.”
A miniature skate park is going to be set up at the block party, with mini ramps and rails. A skate jam will be held that day with Rob Owens of the skateboard deck company Grime Official. There will be between 50-60 vendors, mainly tables for different groups like the Milwaukee Water Commons to spread resources and information about themselves.
“You don’t see a lot of celebration of Hip-Hop culture downtown,” Verdin said. “With this opportunity, we can open up other possibilities and make people more open minded to the culture.”
Verdin continues: “This was a bold move for the Marcus Center. Not a lot of downtown institutions would invite Hip Hop and local young people.”