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Hip-Hop Express

The Hip-Hop Xpress, a school bus that serves as a mobile recording studio, created as part of a University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) faculty collaboration, will make its first visit to Springfield on Saturday, Sept. 26.
From 10 a.m.-12 p.m., the bus will visit House of Music, located at 222 N. Grand Ave E., and from 1-3 p.m. HISO Music, located at 1401 S. Fifth St.
Springfield Hip-Hop artists have been invited to write original music on the bus using instrumental tracks created by producers in Champaign.
“At its core the Hip-Hop Xpress was always envisioned by the UIS/UIUC team to be a tool for building community,” said Tiffani Saunders, UIS instructor of sociology and African American studies, who helped create the bus. “At the local level, it gets community members together for common goal of creating music and learning about the impact of hip-hop music and culture on wider American culture. The design of this project, using faculty from two campuses, along with the music creation planned for this weekend reflects cross-community connection.”
Saunders was involved in early planning discussions about the bus and is responsible for solidifying Springfield community partnerships for future use of the bus.
Work on the bus itself has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The outside of the bus has been wrapped to display the name of the bus and various artists. The inside of the bus is empty, except for its use in transporting non-permanent recording equipment. In addition to the ability to record on Saturday, the public is invited to provide feedback on several possible interior designs.
“COVID aside, we're really excited to bring the Hip-Hop Xpress to the state capital for the first time,” Saunders said. “Grab your mask and let's show everyone that Springfield has talent!”
The bus was funded, in part, by a $150,000 University of Illinois System Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and the Humanities grant. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faculty members Adam Kruse, Malaika McKee and William Patterson played a significant role in creating the bus.
When the bus is finished, the creators plan on having it travel to communities and classrooms across the state, teaching youth about African-American history as well as cultural innovations spurred on by Hip-Hop through the use of music, dance, visual arts and technology.

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