Powell River-based hip hop artist and event promoter Desean Jackson has set out to build a hip hop scene in the community. Having moved here in May 2019, Jackson is new to the area and immediately noticed the lack of hip hop shows.
“Everywhere in town, whether it’s a local business or a car driving by, I hear hip hop,” he said. “Whether people recognize it or not, it’s there. We just don’t have any live shows.”
Jackson has an explanation for why there is a lack of live hip hop in Powell River.
“Hip hop has always been stigmatized, and in a place where there’s no exposure to it, the stigma might still stand,” he said. “But I know there’s an audience for it here. It’s important to consider that rap has even made its way to corners of the earth where it’s illegal. There’s no reason we can’t have some live shows here in Powell River.”
The first show Jackson has organized will take place March 27 at McKinney’s Pub in Townsite. The event will feature Vancouver artist Junk, as well as Jackson himself.
According to Jackson, it will be the first hip hop show Powell River has seen in quite some time.
“I come from a world where every weekend someone is performing; there’s always a hip hop show,” said Jackson. “But when I got here months and months went by and there was nothing. There’s electronic music, folk, blues, jazz, but nobody’s rapping. That was a problem for me.”
In addition to curating hip hop events, Jackson also wants to start a hip hop program for children, teaching them how to produce their own music and discover their creative voice within the genre.
“I've been thinking about it ever since I got here,” he said. “Hip hop is the only music where you don’t have to pay for an instrument, or for vocal lessons. You just have to do it. Rap is very pure like that. It doesn’t matter where you’re from.
“Rap, or hip hop, has always been the voice of the people. Whether you’re in a big city like New York or a kid in a small town.”
Jackson said he hopes by starting a program, that is also ideally free, he can foster the growth of local hip hop artists, as opposed to solely relying on artists from out of town to come and perform.
When asked if he has any other goals for his own music, Jackson said he would rather focus on bringing hip hop to the community right now.
“I don’t want to be the best,” he said. “I just want to lead people into becoming the best.”