The Hip Hop Xpress will be at The Canopy Club in Urbana on July 11-12 as part of the What’s Goin’ On? celebration. The event not only features music but presentations by local organizations working hard to address social inequities.
Since the pandemic of Spring 2020 and the shift to online courses, we pivoted to using the bus as a backdrop for recording local artists and attracting interest in the Black music experience and legacy around town.
We installed wifi equipment that makes the Hip Hop Xpress a mobile hotspot. Thanks to Technology Services at the University of Illinois for their amazing help!
Dr. Will Patterson organized the World Education Community Awareness and Action Network (WECAAN), a group of about 17 youth-serving organizations to collaborate on providing young people with positive activities during the pandemic. Summer offerings at various locations–Youth for Christ, Dream Girls Academy, Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club, DREAAM House, BOyz2Men, Lincoln & Hill, First Followers/GoMAD and the Stephens Family YMCA, among others–have started already.
With the generosity of Sally K. Carter, our team was able to purchase a school bus at an affordable price! The bus has now been customized by It’s a Wrap . Artist John Jennings designed the graphics, and artist Stacey Robinson is helping out with more imagery.
January 2020 News
We are collaborating with the School of Architecture and the School of Music to design and build the inside during a class co-taught by Professors Erickson (Architecture), Kruse (Music) and Patterson (Music and Engineering). WCIA (TV) showed up in late January and did a short video piece about the bus and WAND (TV) did a video story about the bus in February 2020. The News-Gazette also featured Dr. Patterson’s opinion piece on collaborative efforts to support youth, with a photo of the bus in the background.
We received some funding from the Student Sustainability Committee to install some solar features on the bus. We hope to obtain further funding to develop programming for the Xpress.
In January 2019, the team behind the latest Hip Hop Xpress effort received $150,000 in funding from the University of Illinois System’s Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and Humanities.
Drawing on the model of George Washington Carver’s Jesup wagon, this current project will be an internet-connected mobile classroom and sound studio, a means to collect oral histories, a cross-generational catalyst for music sharing and production, and a method to link communities across the state through music, dance, visual arts, and history. The Xpress will be available for use by university faculty, classes, and community groups. A central tenet of the project is to transform various curricula across University of Illinois campuses: the improvisational and multimedia aspects of hip-hop appeal to and enhance many disciplines. The Xpress would be parked near accessible facilities and sometimes partnered with other mobile units in public spaces that are accessible.