2012 Hip-Hop Conference

RocsiRocsi Diaz, co-host of the Black Entertainment Television (BET) flagship show 106 & Park, will join hip-hop scholar Dr. James Braxton Peterson for the keynote presentation when California University of Pennsylvania holds its seventh annual hip-hop conference April 11-13.

This year’s conference, “Hoodies, Profiling, Gender and Hip-hop Culture” addresses the popular musical genre and explores issues that have been in the spotlight since 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed Feb. 26 in Florida.

The keynote speakers will discuss "Gender, Profiling and Commercialization in the Hip-hop Industry" at 6 p.m. April 13 in the Learning Resource Center in Morgan Hall. 

  • BET’s 106 & Park is the leading music video countdown show on television, seen in 85 million households worldwide. Rocsi Diaz has co-anchored the show (along with Terrence J) since 2006, interviewing superstar guests five days a week before a live studio audience in New York City. A former radio deejay, she also is the host of BET’s syndicated radio program 106 & Park Weekend Countdown.
  • Dr. James Braxton Peterson is the director of Africana Studies and an associate professor of English at Lehigh (Pa.) University. He also is the founder of Hip Hop Scholars LLC, an organization dedicated to researching and developing the cultural and educational potential of hip-hop, urban and youth cultures. Peterson has been featured on BET and, the Michael Eric Dyson Show and the award-winning PBS documentary Beyond Beats and Rhymes.

Other conference events include a tribute to the “cipha” musical style at 5 p.m. April 12 at Jozarts Studio on Second Street, just blocks from the Cal U campus. Activities includes cipha free-style, break-dance and fraternity party-hop competitions.

Students also will present topical papers, debate “Who is the Greatest MC?,” and hold a roundtable discussion based on the Trayvon Martin tragedy, "Armed with a Hoodie, Skittles, and Iced Tea: Does Hip-hop Reinforce Negative Stereotypes for Young Black America?”

All events are free and open to the public. Visitor parking is available in the Vulcan Garage, off Third Street near the campus entrance.

Schedule of Events

April 11

4 p.m., Room 102, Duda Hall
Cal U student debate: “Who’s the Greatest MC?”
Students make the case for their favorite hip-hop MC: Wayne, Drake, Rick Ross, Biggie, Tupac, NAS, Jay-Z, Eminem, Nicki, etc. 

April 12

2 p.m., Room 210, Duda Hall
Cal U student roundtable discussion: "Armed with a Hoodie, Skittles and Iced Tea: Does Hip-hop Reinforce Negative Stereotypes for Young Black America?”
Students discuss issues raised by the Trayvon Martin tragedy.

5 p.m., Jozarts Studios, Second Street, California, Pa.
Presentation: "The West-African Roots of the Cipha and Oral Tradition,” by Bryon Turman, of North Carolina A&T State University.


  • Cipha freestyle, featuring Gene Stovall, Shawanda Spivey and Cal U students
  • Cipha break-dance
  • Cipha fraternity party-hop

April 13

2 p.m., Jennie Carter multi-purpose room, Carter Hall
Student Paper Presentations:

  • Skyler Gambert, of Rhodes College, Memphis, Tenn: “Youth Gangs and Revolutionary Spirituality”
  • Ed Shutey, of California University of Pennsylvania: “The Politics of Power, Music and Gender throughout the Black Experience”

4 p.m., Jennie Carter multi-purpose room, Carter Hall
Presentation: "Jesus and Gangsta Rap," by the Rev. Earle Fisher, of Rhodes College, Memphis, Tenn.

6 p.m., Learning Resource Center auditorium, Morgan Hall
Keynote panel: "Gender, Profiling and Commercialization in the Hip-hop Industry," featuring: Rocsi (host of BET TV’s 106 & Park) and Dr. James Braxton Peterson.

Rocsi Diaz Interview

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Rocsi Diaz

Dr. James Braxton Peterson

Rev. Earle Fisher

Bryon Turman

BET’s 106 & Park

What is Cipha?


Hip-hop on L.O.C.K.

More than 100 high school students will be coming from Pittsburgh to attend the conference, including students from Hip-hop On L.O.C.K., a mentoring and arts education program that puts students in charge of creating a music CD from conception to completion. Check out one of their music videos below.