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Hip Hop Congress workshop provides the stepping stones for aspiring artists

Students create music video in Auburn
By: Alex Mecredy, Journal correspondent
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Local youth with an interest in hip-hop worked together this week to make a full CD and music video in Auburn.

The Auburn Hip Hop Congress held a weeklong workshop to help young people develop the skills needed to succeed in the music industry. The students not only focused on improving their performing skills, but also learned the business aspect of their career path. The camp is funded by the Placer Youth Commission. During the course of the workshop, the students will create a full CD and music video that goes along with their song that features all 15 students.

The music video was shot in Downtown Auburn and the CD was recorded at PlacerArts.

The goal of the music being made with Hip Hop Congress is to project the reality of drug and alcohol use. Each of the students touched on his or her personal experiences with drug and alcohol abuse.

“Through using music and art to bring the community together, we create a place if substance abuse issues come up, then we are equipped to deal with them,” said camp leader Natalie Pohley. “There is support and resources there.”

The age of the students ranges from 17 to 25. The camp did not require any payment to enroll, but in exchange for the mentor help and music recording the students must participate in 30 hours of community service. Next week, camp members will volunteer their time to the Lions Club flea market. 

The coordinators of the camp are actively involved in the music industry themselves. Some are performers and others are business-oriented.

 “We came up with putting a CD together and working with each individual artist to help them make money,” said music mentor and workshop coordinator J. Ross Parrelli, a full-time musician and Placer High School graduate.

The majority of the students specialize in rapping, but there are about five students interested in producing. Artist development coordinator Rocky Zapata wants the students to be able to rise above the skepticism that goes along with hip-hop.

“We are trying to bring the culture of hip hop to Auburn,” he said. “The media has done a great job at showing the stigmas of hip-hop. There has been skepticism and it was difficult earlier on to get taken seriously. We just started doing it.”

Chris Owens, a 21-year-old workshop student, has a passion for rapping and producing. He had the passion long before he became involved with Hip Hop Congress, but the workshop is what helped him kick start his goals. Before the workshop, Owens attended Sierra College with no real career goal in mind. He decided to take a break and work full-time to save money to buy equipment needed to make music.

“Hip Hop Congress has given me the tools for marketing, recording and to put myself out there,” Owens said.

After being a part of the workshop, Owens knows he wants to go back to school to major in business and minor in music.

“I’m looking forward to it. I just need to register, get a car and start the rest of my life.”

 “This is bigger than hip-hop,” Zapata emphasized “We are in the community.”

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Hip Hop Congress music video showing

What: Music video at “30 Under 30” art show

When: 6-9 p.m. Thursday, June 14

Where: Arts Building, 808 Lincoln Way, Auburn CA 95603

Info: “30 Under 30,” Angela Tahti, (530) 885-5670. Hip Hop Congress, Natalie Pohley (530) 368-4455