Oregon Folklife Network
 

Mic Crenshaw

2015-2016 TAAP AWARDEE

Traditional Skill/Art Craft: Hip Hop/Rap

Apprentice: Baqi Coles

Describe your traditional skill/craft/art, when and why it is done, and your history with it.

I am an emcee, rapper, spoken word artist, poet, activist, and educator. As a Hip Hop emcee, I write, record, and perform songs that draw inspiration from the social conditions that shape our lives. The content of my work often has political and social commentary woven into the lyrics. I have used this style of art to not only engage the audience and fans but to drive and inform curriculum in the classrooms.

How and from whom was the tradition learned?

The tradition of Hip Hop emceeing is self taught, driven mostly by imitation and innovation. First one develops an affinity for the art form then creates their own style of expression based on the characteristics displayed by professionals and ones own experience and personality. I taught myself how to rap and have been doing it as a hobby since I was 8 years old living in Illinois and have been doing it professionally since 1994 locally, nationally, globally.

Why is this cultural tradition important to your community?

Hip Hop music is the most popular and influential art form in our community. Young African Americans look to Hip Hop culture for their role models. A high number of young people participate in Hip Hop through dance, fashion, and emceeing and actually contribute to the culture artistically and economically TAAP will provide an opportunity for professional Hip Hop artists to share art that is socially, politically, and culturally relevant within the community. This project will foster future mentor, apprentice relationships formal and informal as the young learn from their elders through observation, discussion, education, critique, and interactive entertainment.

Artist Biography

Mic Crenshaw is an emcee, rapper, spoken word artist, poet, activist, and educator. Born in Chicago, Mic taught himself to rap beginning at the age of 8, and began doing it professionally in 1994 after he arrived in Portland. In 2001, Mic won The Portland Poetry Slam Championship, and is actively involved in the Afrikan Hip Hop Caravan, an annual event put together by various African Hip Hop Collectives that tours through various cities in Africa performing and creating an international hip hop community. Mic’s music has been featured in a number of venues, and he has collaborated and performned with internationally acclaimed acts such as the Fugees. Outkast, and Wu-Tang Clan. In his own words, “The tradition of Hip Hop emceeing is self-taught, driven mostly by imitation and innovation. First one develops an affinity for the art form then creates their own style of expression”.

Experience/Honors

In 2001 I was the Portland Poetry Slam Grand Champion.

In 2005 I was awarded the opportunity to travel to Rwanda to attend a summit on Economic Justice and Youth Empowerment.

In 2010 I was the first American artist to be invited to perform at the Bayimbe Arts festival in Uganda.

I have released records that have received critical acclaim locally, nationally, and internationally.

Suckapunch: Pocket Change Philosophy, 2005; Psychopath Society, 2006.

Hungry Mob: 3 Days of Darkness, 2007.

Cleveland Steamers: Treasure Chest, 2007.

Mic Crenshaw: Thinking Out Loud, 2008; Under the Sun, 2009; Bionic Metal (EP), 2013.

2011 NPR Affiliate WEBZ Chicago two day radio interview.

Numerous singles from Thinking Out Loud and Under the Sun charting in the Top 10 for CMJ College Radio Hip Hop Charts.