June 19 is already a recognized holiday in most states. Best known as Emancipation Day, or “Juneteenth,” some cities take great pride in celebrating the occasion, which commemorates the 1865 abolition of slavery in Texas.
But starting this year, Massholes can start popping bottles early. Thanks to District 4 City Councilor Charles Yancey and the urban entertainment federation known as the Mass Industry Committee (MIC), June 17 is an official red letter day in Boston from here on out. The resolution was filed this week at City Hall.
“It's been a long time coming,” says Dana “Daneja” Bradley, MIC ringleader and longtime Mass hip-hop organizer. “A long, long, long time.”
Boston rappers have for decades made a habit out of shouting “6-1-7” – that enduring mark of arbitrary pride. Even with the introduction of 857 to the regional area code lexicon, the original combination continues to dominate hooks, verses, hats, and tees.
Daneja didn't act just for the fun of it. He and community organizer Darrin Howell arranged for the resolution in an effort to unite various factions of the Boston entertainment world. The MIC has done this sort of thing before; for two years, in 2006 and 2007, they produced the Hub's first and only hip-hop awards show.
“Financially, none of that stuff paid off,” says Daneja three years later. “But I think it's obvious that we didn't do it for that reason. At the end of the day, it feels good to help other people in their careers. It feels good to help more people from around here get noticed.”
Though the MIC Awards are on indefinite hiatus, Bradley and a core team of others have kept the MIC alive, with shows, parties, and a cable access show titled – you guessed it – “The 617 Live.” This Friday, to celebrate the date of record, they're hosting an event titled “617 Our Celebrity” at Club Generations (81 Memorial Drive) in Avon.
“There are a lot of people who do a lot of great things around here, and who, unfortunately, aren't recognized the way they should be,” says Bradley. “I want people like Edo G and Krumbsnatcha to be recognized as celebrities. Not as hood celebrities, but as celebrities.”
In the wake of two murders in the Boston rap community – of scene veterans Johnny Hatch and Roc Dukati – MIC organizers are hoping that powwows like this encourage influential artists to unite and push for peace.
“The best thing that can come of this is that people realize that we're all in this together,” says Bradley. “As for 617 being a holiday; this is just the beginning. My hope is that one day it will be embedded in stone somewhere.”