'Evolution of Hip-Hop': Minister Louis Farrakhan tells it like it is

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(photos by Shannon McCollum)

Oct. 14, 2007, started like any other old Sunday. Me, dreading Monday and feeling slightly guilty about not remembering the last time I went to church (I think it was my cousin’s wedding). But little did I know, one afternoon would make up for a lifetime of spiritual truancy.

With the shadow of the overhyped BET Hip-Hop Awards looming over the city, special invited guests abandoned the red carpets, name dropping, and VIP theatrics to embrace the core values of love, compassion and humanity. A who’s who of hip-hop artists, industry tastemakers and activists huddled into Justin’s on Peachtree seeking spiritual renewal via “The Evolution of Hip-Hop: An Intimate Conversation with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” sponsored by AllHipHop.com and 9196 Management.

As rap gets star billing as the new American scapegoat (T.I.’s arrest certainly didn't help its public image), the gathering sought to combat attacks on the art form, offering straight-no-chaser strategies to center the global influence and cultural impact of hip-hop through social responsibility, atonement and activism. The star-studded roundtable of guests included Chuck Creekmur (AllHipHop.com), Benjamin Chavis (Hip-Hop Summit Action Network), Chuck D and Professor Griff (Public Enemy), Dee Dee Murray (Murray Music Media Corp.), I’na Saulsberry (the Starfire Group), Organized Noize, Jason Orr (Funk Jazz Kafé), Michael Eric Dyson, director Bryan Barber, Teddy Riley, N’dea Davenport, David Banner, NO I.D., Diamond D, and Atlanta rappers and producers Killer Mike, Cee-lo, DJ Toomp and Bryan-Michael Cox.

Anyone questioning Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan’s effectiveness need only witness a room full of “industry” folk humble themselves enough to plead for direction, as was the case with a teary-eyed Killer Mike, who was so overwhelmed by the rousing speech he not only offered a public apology for his headline-grabbing feud with Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon record label, but also sought guidance in coping with an industry built on capitalism and greed. Mike’s impromptu alter call has already become legendary.