(Crystal A. Proxmire, 5/16/2011)
Can ELAvated Sundays at AJs Café give a voice to the voiceless? Can they be the coming together place for lovers of hip hop from both the city and the burbs? Can the words and expressive beats create the unity needed to fuel a class revolution?
That’s the vision of 5 ELA and Common Breath Media, the creators of the Sunday afternoon concert and social justice rally series. 5 ELA is a staple in the Detroit hip hop scene, a group that was founded by Proof, Thyme, and Mudd in the early 90s and came up in the world of the Detroit sub-culture made famous by Eminem’s movie 8 Mile.
The group has also laid claim in the city’s artistic community, by founding the 5E Gallery at Michigan and 19th Street as a place for art, music and community organization.
Common Breath is a media and promotions start-up based in Ferndale, dedicated to showing the influence of music, particularly hip hop, on mass social change. Their website is a blend of videos and articles that highlight both local and global musical revolutions in progress.
The ELAvated Sundays feature music by 5 ELA as well as a DJ playing music while members mingle with others in attendance, talking about the power of hip hop and the vision they have for the world.
Muddrich Watson, known as Mudd, grew up in a time of change in Detroit. “I came from the birth of the hip hop era. I was an 80s baby, a product of Reganomics. I watched our communities destroyed. Development divided the neighborhoods. I saw the drugs come in,” he said. “The way to stay above it was to rap about it.”
Artists like KRS1, Tupac, and Ice Cube influenced young Mudd, Thyme, and Proof as they hung out after school or busted rhymes in the cafeteria. They later took their skills to The Rhythm Kitchen and Stanley’s in Midtown where the most famous Detroit free-stylists battled. “It was all about using your mind,” he said. “We wanted to be smart, and more creative around each other.”
Years have passed and while Proof moved on to bigger fame, and to his grave, the music of 5 ELA carries on. Mudd has seen more of the world, and understands the value both of enriching his hometown and in connecting with others through music.
“I could leave, but I’d rather stay and ‘ELA’vate others,” he said. The gallery is one way 5Ela has done that. Pairing with Common Breath for shows at AJs is a step in expanding their reach and sharing revolutionary love.
“There are so many people out there who are unhappy with the world we live in. They get in groups or movements, but they struggle and they feel like they are the only ones. There are lots of us out there, all doing different things. We may not look the same or have the same causes we fight for. But beneath it all we all want the same things. We are individuals with the right to live our own lives, and have our own freedoms. This is given to us by God, and no government, no companies, no system can take that away. The people who feel like we can do better are not alone. And they’re all welcome to come to “ELA”vated Sundays to chill, get relaxed, get refreshed and get energized with some like-minded folks. It’s simple. I’m down for some change, you?”
The next ELAvated Sunday will be at AJ’s Music Café MI (240 W 9 Mile Road) from 4pm-7pm on August 14, 2011.