Summit is about getting your money right

April 21, 2005|By Rashod D. Ollison | Rashod D. Ollison,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

The word "hip-hop" may be in the title, but this gathering has nothing to do with rap lyrics and hard-hitting beats. The theme of the Maryland Hip-Hop Summit - a one-day conference at the Murphy Fine Arts Center on the campus of Morgan State University today - centers on financial literacy and creating wealth: Get Your Money Right.

The event, which is free to the public, is spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and Hip-Hop Summit Action Network chairman and entertainment mogul Russell Simmons.

"Everybody needs to be financially literate," says Simmons, who is calling from New York. "It's a vicious cycle. People living in poverty and ignorance need consciousness to get out of that. They need information."

Workshops on saving and investing, building credit and bank relationships, home ownership, entrepreneurship, budgeting and avoiding predatory lending practices will be conducted from noon until 3 p.m.

A Hip-Hop Summit Town Hall Meeting will follow from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and will feature a panel discussion with Simmons, Steele and various representatives from the business and hip-hop community, including Baltimore native Tony Austin, an executive with Island Def Jam Music Group who was recently named president of the newly formed Russell Simmons Music Group.

The conference, whose sponsors include the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the Harbor Bank of Maryland and others, uses the cultural relevance of hip-hop as a catalyst for education. Hip-hop has become a way to market to 18- to 24-year-olds.

Earlier this month, Simmons, the founder of Def Jam Records and Phat Farm fashions, introduced the Rush Card, a pre-paid debit card.

"There's nothing wrong with living in abundance," he says. "Young people need information about ownership and the entrepreneurial spirit."

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