A hip-hop artist planning a Friday night event at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery came up with something the august art gallery never tried:
Showing off the intelligent side of hip-hop culture.
"It's going to be groundbreaking, that's for sure," said Edreys Wajed, a musician and gallery community project assistant.
At 3:30 p.m. at today's free Gusto at the Gallery event, Wajed's plan will unfold with a graffiti class. "(Hip-hop is) a 30-year-old art form," he said. "It's not just a fad."
In that spirit, Gusto at the Gallery will include lessons in DJ-ing, break-dancing and a hip-hop documentary, all starting at 5:30. Four live performances start at 8.
Wajed and fellow hip-hop artist Trevor Drayton will appear as Raw Intel, short for "raw intelligence." Since 1996 the two fathers have been putting poetry to music with a positive spin.
"We don't use any profanity at all," he said.
In fact, each act has been booked in an effort to combat what Wajed views as aggressive, misogynistic lyrics and videos of Top 40 rap. "I live in Buffalo," he said. "Every woman isn't always in a bikini."
Instead Wajed uses hip-hop music as a tool for inspiration and education.
"It's been called the CNN of the streets," he said. "The music would grip you first and then you would hear the message behind it."
Yet the reputation of hip-hop and rap makes it hard to find a public forum in this city, even for the positive stuff. Besides a Sunday evening hip-hop act at the Rendezvous on Niagara Street, Wajed says the Friday events at the Albright-Knox will be a rare exposure.
"It's a rebellion against what's on the radio right now," he said.
Show up for the evening's free events, which last until 11 p.m., and Wajed promises it will be an education. "You'll find out the things you don't know," he said.
Gusto at the Gallery takes place from 3 to 11 tonight in 1285 Elmwood Ave. Call 882-8700.