Isle goes hip-hop

The fifth annual Belle Isle Hip Hop Mile hits the island on Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m.

 The idea for the Hip Hop Mile was developed in 2004, when John Greasy and his sister Karinda Washington attended a Stop the Violence rally in Detroit. The rally came amidst three months of record high murder rates in the city.

“We wanted to develop a talent showcase dedicated to decreasing violence,” said Washington, CEO of BOTS Entertainment.

In the past five years, the event has become more diverse, with artists coming from other states and Windsor.

“A lot of people mistakenly think hip hop is just one thing, but this is a way of bringing nationalities together,” said Greasy, who serves as the talent coordinator for the event. “It’s not just hip hop, we’ve got rap, singing, poetry, canvas artists, live graffiti artists. We bring all of that to the table plus a lot of community organizations.”

Jiggsaw, a hip hop artist who has performed at the event said the Hip Hop Mile is an important community event.

“It’s a free family event that brings together all elements of music. The stop the violence message is really important. It has really touched the youth of the community.”

Greasy said the event also seeks to represent things from an artist’s perspective.

“As artists, we understand the artist perspective and want to give back creative control to our performers,” Greasy said. “It’s a venue for all artists to get some love. We’re open to all genres. We just want to make a difference.”

In honor of the event’s fifth year, the theme for this year’s event is the Best of the Best and will feature artists from all over the country who have supported the Hip Hop Mile from its start.

Additionally, the Detroit Entertainment Commission, which was recently approved by the Detroit City Council, will debut at the Hip Hop Mile.

“The Detroit Entertainment Commission will work to support events like ours, so we were involved in getting approved,” said Washington. “The entire commission will be presented on stage during the event.”

Washington says the event is a good opportunity for college students to get involved.

“There are a lot of networking opportunities and students who volunteer at the Hip Hop Mile,” Washington said. “We want to give back to the community so we encourage students to do service learning.”