Athens Community Celebrates 50 Years of Hip Hop

William Montu Miller. Credit: Sam Lipkin

The birth of hip hop is widely attributed to one remarkable moment: On August 11, 1973 in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City, DJ Kool Herc was entertaining at his sister’s back-to-school party and extended an instrumental beat on the turntable while emceeing over top of it. This would soon have a wide-reaching impact that has trickled down for 50 years.

In celebration of this anniversary, local rappers, singers, poets and storytellers are coming together tomorrow, Thursday, May 18, in downtown Athens for a two-part event led by AthFactor-Liberty Entertainment. Whether or not you fall into any of those categories, the entire community is invited to come out and enjoy the festivities.

The evening will kick off with a hip-hop cypher—rappers who have signed up will take turns delivering 12 bars recorded by a cameraperson as the whole group moves down the street. Participants and spectators should meet on the corner of Pulaski and Clayton streets at 5:30 p.m. Amun-Ra will kick off the cypher at 6 p.m. The group will pause at the Athens Music Walk of Fame plaque for Lo Down & Duddy, where the duo plans to share something special. The next stop will take place at the Athens Music Walk of Fame plaque for Ishues, who will recite his 12 bars. The cypher will end around 7:30 p.m. in front of the Morton Theatre at Hot Corner, the city’s historic African-American business district.

The One Mic Open Mic event will begin at The World Famous at 8 p.m. with DJ Chief Rocka spinning music. Over 20 individuals will take three-minute turns sharing stories, music, poetry and more that express their appreciation for hip hop.

AthFactor CEO and host for the evening William “Montu” Miller explains, “The hip-hop community has been my family away from home.” He expresses gratitude for the Athens scene welcoming him in and allowing him to be a large part of the community over the years. Community members spanning generations will also share what makes the culture and scene so important to them throughout every part of this event.

WHAT: 50th Anniversary Hip Hop Cypher and Open Mic
WHERE: Downtown Athens & The World Famous
WHEN: Thursday, May 18, 5:30–10:30 p.m.