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  • Rahisha Bivens

The Iconic Toad’s Place: When Did You Fall In Love With Hip Hop?

Photo of me by Raheem Nelson & all other photos by Rahisha Bivens, For NSA

It was all a dream, I used to read word up magazine! In my adolescence and specifically while attending college, I discovered and feel more deeply in love with hip hop. It was a love affair that started secretly. I would sneak and watch music videos, enamored with the video vixens, and on the flip side, loving Tupac for his rawness and intensity. Inside of my Christian upbringing, immersion in hip-culture was forbidden. However, the activist within me even in adolescence knew that life, and empowerment was more nuanced than creating a line of demarcation with all "worldly things."

After I gave birth to my daughter at 19 while in college, I manifested a large diverse circle of Black women as friends who became a support network that I adored. One of the women in my circle introduced me to conscious hip hop. I knew of Nas and Tupac in high school and referenced both in a high school Term paper I wrote, called "Hip Hop: The Window To Black America." I used this essay when I applied to get into CCSU's honors program.

My relationship with hip hop, grew more deeply as I listened to Black Star album, discovered Dead Presidents and grew stronger in my Black Power stance. I was always empowered by Black people's ability to transform our historical trauma, and oppression and take our power back through the civil rights movement. Hip Hop was another expression, of our power. A rebellion against racism and a culture of revolution.

In college, I went to my first concert on campus, and attended a litany of empowering concerts at Toad's Place. Prior to learning of Toad's I had went to Rock The Bells, which was a large massive concert, compared to the venue of Toad's itself and I always appreciated the intimacy of Toad's.

I saw Common, Nas, Lauryn Hill, Talib Kweli and so many great legends in this space.

It was an honor to bring my 19 year daughter Desiree to a space that is so iconic, and deeply memorable for me. She grew up completely immersed in diverse hip hop music so I'm so honored, to have spent a Friday night celebrating her accomplishments as a college basketball player at Toad's Place.

My husband Raheem, The Art Director For No Starving Artists & my Sister Quiana, who are hip hop & music connoisseurs enjoyed themselves too. Raheem, has Dj'd for many years, and has interviewed many talented hip hop artists through NSA. Quiana Is a self-taught guitarist and multifaceted creative who has performed in many venues with my daughter Desiree who is a gifted singer.

As you start your week, make sure you are giving yourself space to enjoy everything you love!

Rahisha, Founder & CEO of NSA

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