This is a repost of a blog entry I made for Provisions Library on July 27, 2011:
Ben Herson visited the Provisions Library today. He is the founder and director of Nomadic Wax, “a global hip-hop record label and production company dedicated to recording, documenting and presenting hip-hop and underground music from around the world.” His work has given exposure to African and Middle Eastern hip hop scene through concerts, educational workshops, albums and documentaries. Most of the artists he works with are using their music to fight violence and political injustice. What intrigues me about Herson is how he is able to generate a revenue source for Nomadic Wax in the social change arena.
Nomadic Wax’s primary source of revenue comes from hosting international hip hop concerts and educational workshop series on university campuses in the United States (U.S.). In 2004, Herson co-founded the Trinity International Hip-Hop festival at Trinity College, the first international hip-hop festival in the U.S. This festival brings hip-hop artists from around the world with the idea that the organizing, hosting and educating the audience is taught to the college students hosting the event, and passed to the next group of organizers. A smaller annual international hip hop festival now takes place at Tufts University. Nomadic Wax also organizes hip hop festivals on other campuses based on interest from the student body.
A less important source of revenue is the Democracy documentary series. Nomadic Wax has three films under its belt. These films show the before, during, and after an election in a country. African Underground: Democracy in Dakar is a seven-part featured length film about the influence of hip hop in the 2007 election in Senegal. Democracy in Paris was “shot as 5 mini-documentary shorts to bridge the gap between hip hop activism, video journalism and documentary film in its exploration of politics, immigration, hip hop, and youth in France.” Democracy in Haiti, in the production phase, “aim to paint a portrait of the role of youth during the 2010 presidential election in Haiti.”
More about African hip hop scene check out African Underground: Hip Hop in Senegal and Political Rap – Influencing the Vote in Senegal. Also check out Herson speak regarding youth and violence at a UCLA forum on March 12, 2009.