A Conversation with Harry Allen and Jay Smooth
March 23, 2022 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
We will host a dialogue between Media Assassin and Hip-Hop Activist Harry Allen and DJ and Vlogger Jay Smooth about their work.
Harry Allen, Hip-Hop Activist & Media Assassin, writes about race, politics, and culture for Vibe, The Source, The Village Voice, and other publications, and has done so for nearly thirty-five years. Allen has been quoted as an expert covering hip-hop culture in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, on National Public Radio, MTV, VH-1, CNN, the BBC, and other information channels. He is also well known for his association with the seminal band Public Enemy, and his photography lecture, Shooting The Enemy, screens images he made of the band’s members in their prerecording days. Allen is a 2017 Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellow at Harvard University. He is also a 2020 CAST (Center for Arts, Science, and Technology) Visiting Artist at M.I.T. Allen recently started HARD, a boutique for developing “singular and outrageous” projects. One such design is harbanger (pronounced “harbinger”), Allen’s turntablist septet. Founded at M.I.T., harbanger completed a unique, two-work commission for the Library of Congress in September 2021. Based on this and other successes, Allen is currently developing harbanger’s evolutionary step: TREE[TREE] (“tree tree 3”), a turntable septendectet of 17 hip-hop battle DJs. He lives with his wife, Zakiya, near Washington D.C.
Jay Smooth is host and founder of The Underground Railroad, New York City’s longest-running hip-hop radio program, and a prolific cultural commentator best known for his Ill Doctrine video series. Jay has established himself for many years both as a hip-hop scholar and a leading voice at the nexus of sociopolitical issues who brings a singular perspective on society and culture. Jay Smooth enlightens with poignant observations about music, race, politics and other important cultural and social issues, while promoting the importance of mutual respect. Through thoughtful examination, Jay makes sensitive topics like race remarkably accessible, demonstrating the power in actively engaging in direct conversation about complex subjects. Jay challenges audiences to set aside what they think they know about race, politics, hip-hop culture, and other social issues with insightful commentary that expands perceptions. With delivery marked by an energetic presence that is complemented by humorous and entertaining observations, Jay ultimately encourages others to rely on critical thinking and collectively affirm their shared humanity.