How I Got Invited Then Uninvited To Speak On A Panel That I Wasn't Getting Paid For (A BKHHF Love Story) - GangStarr Girl : GangStarr Girl

How I Got Invited Then Uninvited To Speak On A Panel That I Wasn’t Getting Paid For (A BKHHF Love Story)

[ 7 ] July 11, 2011 |

I always expect human beings to take the low road, especially when ego is involved. I realize how pessimistic and cynical that sounds but my experiences in life haven’t really taught me much different. I’m not saying that good people don’t exist, but finding rational people who aren’t petty is hard to come by.

I was recently invited to speak on a panel for the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, which takes place on July 16 (and the panel is on Wed) but then got uninvited because of some “comments” I made two years ago. Ironically, the panel was about the future of hip-hop journalism but apparently, being a journalist and speaking the truth is what got me uninvited. Go figure.

The “comments” I made were written in a blog for Honey magazine after I had a bad experience at the festival. I’ve been supporting the BKHHF as press and a fan since its second year of business. In 2009, when I went through said negative experience, I was frustrated and hurt so I wrote about it. My blog was about how unorganized the event was and how I was treated like some random blogger who made up my credentials just to get inside for free. My name wasn’t on the list despite having rsvp’d and also attending (and covering) the pre festival press meet and greet a few days before, despite having covered it every year since ‘05 for some of the biggest Hip-Hop outlets in the country (online and in print), and even despite volunteering my services to the committee. And let’s face it: Most of the people who put the fete together pretty much don’t get paid.

In that blog post, which was entitled “Why I’m Over The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival,” I talked about how unorganized it was and expressed that I wanted them to get it together. Yet despite my criticism I wasn’t malicious, just honest. And you know what? Even people who worked on the BKHHF festival committee cosigned what I said. I was even offered scandalous info of epic proportions because some bitter people wanted me to “expose” what was going on behind the scenes but that’s not my style so I didn’t. My goal was to simply tell the truth about how they treated press but also to vent my frustrations hoping that maybe they’d take it into consideration. I didn’t bash nor did I slander.

In addition to people revealing TMI about behind the scenes drama, someone also came to me and said “people” from the BKHHF were upset about my blog but they didn’t tell me who or what was said. I’m a smart girl, I figured out who and of course I know that no one would be happy hearing/reading something negative about their baby but at the same time no one considered my side and the fact that I wasn’t being malicious and that what happened to me didn’t just happen to me. However, because of hubris, immaturity and lack of communication no one stepped to me like an adult about it. They held the grudge⎯a fact I suspected when I once sent a mass e-mail requesting help in a contest I participated in, and got the response from one of the then publicists to remove her from my list. Period. Not just take her off my mass e-mail list; just never e-mail her again. Wow. That type of request doesn’t bother me but this felt strange. One: I rarely send mass e-mails and never get that type of response when I do. Two: My instinct told me it was done out of saltiness. So I removed her and lived my life. What you gonna do?

Fast forward to May 2011. I got a pleasant e-mail from a young woman who said she was putting together a panel for the BKHHF, for Pratt, and she thought I’d be good. Foolishly, I thought this was an olive branch or a, water under the bridge type of situation so I agreed to do it (and even got motivated to go to the actual festival again), even though I wouldn’t be paid (and sacrificing hours from work). But then in early July, shortly after I got my speaking points and itinerary, I got an e-mail from her which cc’d the BKHHF founder and president⎯you can Google his name because he’s popular (and it won’t live here)⎯saying that because of the “comments” I made she had to rescind my invite. Who does that?

So I took it as my “punishment” and laughed at the ridiculousness of it. I guess it was more like, who do I think I am. Maybe it would have been an easier pill for them to swallow if I were a celebrity or “big time.” Who knows?

I’m good on working with or associating with people who hold grudges on some bullsht and again, I wasn’t getting paid. I responded to her e-mail. My reply wasn’t rude, it was just a pithy expression of my disappointment in that type of behavior, which was handed down from the higher up who couldn’t e-mail me him self but would rather be cc’d just to make sure his order was carried out.

This is exactly the present and future of hip-hop journalism and why we’re losing. People don’t and won’t say anything that might offend people⎯who are too irrational, egotistical and sensitive anyway⎯because they don’t want to ruin relationships. I understand that to a degree and have played that game as well, but sometimes some things just need to be said. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog or my Twitter knows that I’m good at saying not nice things in a respectful manner (if I choose to be tame about it) so this, for me, is not a lesson in keeping my mouth shut. If I’m passionate enough about something⎯good or bad⎯then I’m going to use the platform that I’ve been given to speak my message whether people get mad or not. It’s a shame those kids at Pratt have to miss out but there are more panels where that came from. Kanye shrug.

    You can read an excerpt of my “comments” below and draw your own conclusion. I lost the whole blog but this is a good chunk:

[There was a photo from the concert leading the post]

   The above picture was the best I could do because I wasn’t able to get access to the press area. That might have been Brand Nubian performing but I’m not sure because at that point, I was extremely annoyed. There was a great line up last Saturday including Tiye Phoenix, Brokn.English, Donny Goines, Dead Prez, Pharoahe Monch and Styles P. Plus, people came out in the name of love, unity and good hip-hop. I should have had fun but instead, I got slighted.

    I love the concept, the love and the energy of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, which is why I initially planned to attend every single one that I could (it’s great when I can combine work with passion), but after attending my fourth BHHF on Saturday, I’ve concluded that it was also my last. I have never had a problem getting my credentials, but there’s a first time for everything. The organization this year was chaotic and unprofessional. (NOTE: This is not a reflection on my personal feelings for committee members who I know and love, it’s strictly about the business aspect).

    I suppose the Brooklyn Bodega and The Room Service Group were trying to tighten up who they let get in as press because in previous years, people pretended to be covering the event so that they could get access to artists but the problem is, in this year’s attempt to have it more together, they kept out press that should have had full access–ie me (and some others I spoke to who wanted to get down to business). Some of my associates who performed in the show told me that the backstage area was so flooded with amateur press (this is literally what they said) that it was hard to move. If that sounds cocky, then so be it. I’ve written and been on staff at The Amsterdam News, Scripps Howard, Elemental magazine, XXL magazine,,,, and more. I’ve interviewed activists, politicians and celebrities and have never had a problem with accuracy and credibility so how did I get dissed? I’m still not sure.


Category: News, Reflections

About the Author ()

Starrene Rhett Rocque is a recovering journalist who often fantasizes about becoming a shotgun-toting B-movie heroine.

Comments (7)

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  1. Adam B says:

    Great post! Hip-hop events, in general, are poorly run and could learn A LOT from rock events. The first time I covered Warped Tour it was like a revelation. Sixty bands, over half a dozen stages, and everything happened on time. Everyone who was press got their credentials first thing and weren’t hassled at all.

    It’s a shame the BHHF decided to un-invite you. I think it would have been great to have you on the panel and perhaps even have them introduce you as someone who had been critical of the event in the past, yet still wanted to contribute. It would have directly implied THEIR growth as an event.

    Sadly, you’re not the first person I know who has had these kinds of issues with the BHHF.

    There is no future for “hip-hop journalism” as it’s already become an oxymoron.

  2. Co-sign. Keep telling the truth and hopefully it’ll set the rest of the game free of the BS that goes on behind (and in-front-of) closed doors.

  3. AHLOT says:

    Politicks. Politics. Politricks. PEACE to you and your integrity. 🙂

  4. gitty says:

    Thats twisted, usually people just see things from one side… Though communication would always improve the situation, add in a level head, and its spilt milk steped on.
    I think there is life for hip-hop journalism, though alot has to be done along with the industry, Nothing never die’s the essence always floats, just need to be captured in a new spot…
    Good Post, wish you the best

  5. William says:

    smh. Egos are the name of the game, sadly.

  6. AHLOT says:

    Politricks. Politicks. Politics. Thanks for utilizing and standing firm in your INTEGRITY. We appreciate you. Continue to shine bright, Starr.

  7. Redhead says:

    That’s some nonsense! But then again, people in the hiphop industry are crazy sensitive and try to promote “positivity” every chance they get, which in reality is just kissin ass.

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