A Dazzling Musical Mix: Vocal Trash HIPCO" and Accountability HIPCO

What would you expect when entering a room full of artists from three unique but contrasting orientation. Especially, when you discover that their musical genres are differing yet promoting similar objectives: peace, unity, accountability, and integrity, ‘one love for one world’. I guess a harmonious rhythmic explosion of traditionally arranged musical blasts would be your take-home. Such was the atmosphere when we hosted the festive musical workshop and jambore, featuring the acclaimed American Vocal Trash Band and the rising Liberian HIPCO Network.

Vocal Trash described as, 'Music with a Message’, this green minded ensemble delights audiences globally, on a relentless pursuit to bring people together through the universal language of song and dance. Playing instruments fashioned from trash cans, water bottles and other items salvaged from the trash conveys the group's message of reuse and recycle. The Texas -based band performs at fairs, rodeos, events, and globally as part of the State Department's envoy program. “What we are doing is taking old classics and giving them a redo, recycling old classics and giving them an urban feel," says Steve Linder, founder of Vocal Trash.

HIPCO is an evolving and creative Liberian music industry which grew from the 'crumbling ghettos and slum communities of Monrovia and its environs'. As Robin Dopoe mentioned since 2000, “the sound of hipco music has improved greatly with quality songs being released in and out of Liberia”. The industry has defied the odds to remain the most popular music genre in Liberia, and serving as the medium through which rappers speak against societal ills, including injustice and corruption.

HIPCO Accountability Network is a sub segment of HIPCO. The group is established through Accountability Lab Liberia’s incubator and consists of Liberian musicians, DJs, radio personalities, and producers who make, play, and talk about music that addresses real issues of accountability in Liberia and gives a voice to the people. They also work together to create an infrastructure in their music industry that includes things like copyright protections and minimum play laws. The network is instrumental to shifting the paradigm of the industry from a rough and rudy style of lyrics creation to a more refined approach that would promote accountability, integrity and peace in Liberia.

The trios jammed at iCampus in a musician workshop and jamboree in the last week of February. The event brought together a roll of 72 participants in an all day musical crack. The activity is part of iCampus’ capacity support to Liberian artists and creatives, and Vocal Trash’s 38-hour tour in Liberia. The initiative was made possible with the support of USAID LAVI and US Embassy in Monrovia. Various creative sessions characterized the event including: Workshops on the essentials of music in promoting peacebuilding, using music to promote learning tourism and development and useful tips for lyrics creation, stage performance and branding. A jamboree Session with Vocal Trash and selected national artists, as well as a freestyle recording session with Vocal Trash and selected national artists at iCampus' new media lab with Beat Master Xclusive, one of Liberia's top producers as the MC!

By: Janet M Kamara

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