After my boy Milez told me about Sandbox Automatic, I went straight broke, and stayed broke for a while. I was buying every new release from every artist I was down with, and, based on our conversations consumed with talk of only the newest and nicest hip-hop, I’m pretty sure he was doing the same thing. Our local scene (RI/New England) was really dope at this time too; especially the battle circuit. Boston had the Superbowl Battle, Providence had Mic-Wars, and Sage Francis, a Rhode Island native, had taken home the trophy for the 2000 Scribble Jam emcee battle. I remember watching Scribble Jam VHS tape’s and telling my friends that Sage, the kid who we just watched win the battle, was from RI. In retrospect, those tapes were my best purchases from Sandbox…
Scribble Jam was on a level I hadn’t even imagined. The graffiti, the DJ’s, the b-boys, the emcee’s, all showcased in one big event. Eventually I grew tired of waiting for the highlights to hit video (and then DVD), but mostly of trying to convince my friends to take the trip to Cincinnati with me. So, in 2005, I packed my bags, found the first hotel with an iron/ironing board, and, in complete loner fashion, hit the streets for the tenth anniversary of Scribble Jam.
Cincinnati was strange to me. CVS sold booze, cab drivers tried to charge sales tax, and chili peppers were grown beside the highway. People also questioned my accent, which was something I never knew was so noticeable until then. I took it as an opportunity to represent Rhode Isle every time I was asked. Aside from a McFadden’s (and two years later a McCormick & Shmicks), what I saw of Cinci wasn’t anything like Providence. I didn’t care. My only purpose in the city was to get to Annie’s and be a part of the Scribble Jam crowd.
Being able to see the celebration of all the hip-hop elements first hand felt incredible. Breaking, painting, DJ’ing, emceeing, beat-boxing, all in one place—you’d be hard-pressed to find another event in the same capacity. I honestly believe the love and representation of hip-hop culture that takes place at Scribble Jam goes unmatched by any other concert and/or festival, past or present. The entire weekend was like breaths of life into, what some would consider, (*cringe*) a dying genre of music. To me, Scribble was more than a hip-hop festival. It resembled the validity and strength of a beautiful, unique, and revolutionary culture that has endlessly combated negative stereotypes, leagues of critics, and millions of know-nothings.
After my first visit to Annie’s and my epiphany-like reaction to Scribble Jam, I swore I would be back in Cincinnati every August.
Unfortunately, on March 31 Kevin Beacham sent out a press release stating that, after thirteen years, Scribble Jam would not be happening in 2009. “With the current status of the economy, which effects everything from people being able to afford an event like this to the lack of corporate sponsorships, we feel it’s best for us to take some time to regroup, refocus and reassess the future of Scribble Jam,” writes Beacham.
Although Kevin states the ’09 cancellation “was by no means an easy decision,” I personally believe it’s a wise move. The hiatus will allow the minds behind Scribble Jam to consider the possibilities of years to come, but also give them an opportunity to come back stronger than ever.
I certainly hope so.
Word to Kevin Beacham, Mr. Dibbs, Fat Nick, all the people involved Scribble Magazine (R.I.P.), and the many others I know I’m forgetting, for all their ideas, time, and hard work that has gone into the creation of and thirteen memorable years of Scribble Jam. Good looking, and much appreciated.