Hip hop turning 50: TRUE Skool presenting 6th Annual Summer Park Jam


MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee has a center for transformative creative arts and hip hop culture and it’s called True Skool.

Shalina Ali serves as the Co-Executive Director. “I have to make sure that other young people will have the opportunity to be fulfilled through this culture and through this art, the way that I have been,” said Ali.

True Skool is located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee inside The Ave., where they offer free after-school programming and summer creative entrepreneurial opportunities for high school-aged youth.

“They need the support, they deserve the support and so they can come after school, they can take creative classes; whatever they’re interested in, break dance, graffiti art, music, production, DJ classes,” said Ali.

When asked how hip hop influenced her to be where she is today, she answered, “To think about how hip hop essentially became another real-life classroom for me, I had to turn to that a lot of time to just have my own understanding and develop my own sense of self and knowledge.”

True Skool also offers True Knowledge Sessions that focus on everything from urban agriculture to conflict resolution and most importantly mental health.

“For me, myself, hip hop has always been about mental health and emotional wellness, and so when you merge community building, camaraderie, emotional wellness, creativity and knowledge, that’s real education,” said Ali.

With that said, this piece serves as a reminder. It’s in memory of the late DJ Rock Dee, one of Milwaukee’s most respected DJs. The art was actually constructed with pieces from his vinyl records. Maysen Boswell has utilized the program for the last two years.

“True Skool allows you to like express yourself in ways that sometimes at school, they don’t allow you to, like fully flow into your creative self,” said Boswell.

Speaking of creativity, as Hip Hop turns 50, True Skool has a full weekend of events planned to celebrate.

“It is definitely paying homage to how hip hop has influenced so many different things in the world,” said Ali.

Friday, August 11th and Saturday, August 12th is their 6th Annual Summer Park Jam at the Marcus Performing Arts Center with lyricist “Wordsworth” and Milwaukee native Speech with Arrested Development. On Sunday, they’ll have a boat cruiser fundraiser with guest DJ Arabian Prince of NWA.

TMJ4 asked, “Did you ever think that hip hop would make it this far? Ali replied, “I never thought hip hop would take ME this far!”

For more information on TRUE Skool and the 2023 Summer Park Jam, click here: TRUE Skool Team.

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