Hip-hop comes together for good cause

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Hip-hop means a lot of things to a lot of people -- and not all those thoughts are positive. Local concert producer Brian Alpart wants to see that change.

"Hip-hop is whatever you want it to be," Alpart said. "To me, hip-hop is about community."

He uses the example of this weekend's event, a hip-hop benefit for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. KRS-One is performing for half the price of his usual shows. Levelz club owner Chad Gagliano offered the space and soundman for free, and local hip-hop performers came out of the woodwork to support the cause.

The lineup is proving to be a mix of styles and approaches, giving the uninitiated a chance to explore the genre and offering something new to longtime fans.

KRS-One will headline a show that includes local acts DJ Cocheze, DJ Also Starring, DJ Founder and Kat in tha Hat (yes, they are playing two shows in one night) and national acts such as Busy Bee, Grand Master Caz and a professional break-dancing crew.

KRS-One, nee Kris Parker, has been on the scene since the 1980s. His peers recognized him as a major influence on the modern hip-hop scene when he was chosen as one of the first inductees into the Hip Hop Hall of Fame.

His raps often are political and socially conscious, which is why listeners love him or hate him.

If the show sells out, 35 percent of money collected at the door will be given to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Alpart, who is organizing the event with Bo Nickey, has watched his mother struggle with leukemia for more than a decade. She has been in and out of remission for 13 years.

"I'm in a position now where I am doing shows, and I am using that positively," he said. "This show is not about one person making a bunch of loot. It is about everyone getting together to raise awareness. It's hard to find someone who hasn't been in some way helped by this organization or who doesn't know someone who has.

"People take organizations like this for granted, but if it isn't for fund-raisers like this one, they wouldn't have raised over $500 million since 1988."

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