One of the major conversations that took place as part of the event’s Sip and Spill series was a sit-down with rapper Maino and actor and artist Malcolm Mays of Power Book III: Raising Kanan fame. Moderated by Barkue Tubman, chief of staff at ESSENCE Ventures, the chat touched on the men’s love of wine. They discussed how wine means family to them, with Mays divulging that his partner helped him learn more about how to pair different kinds with different foods to bring out different flavors. Audience members were also given a lesson in wine, finding out that the popular rose drink specifically comes from red grapes (but is not a red wine!).
In the spirit of celebrating 50 years of hip-hop this year, they also talked about what the genre means to them, even tying it to wine. (Mays said red wine makes him think of EFOC headliner Lauryn Hill’s “Lost One” and Maino revealed that “Big Poppa” is what comes to mind for him).
They also talked about the impact of social media on the genre, how such platforms can also be dangerous in the way they commodify and disseminate talent, and their fondness for watching the influx of women in hip-hop dominate at the same time.
“This is an unprecedented time,” said Maino. “This is the first time you’ve had this many women competing at the same time at this level. It’s never been done. We’ve never seen that. So women need to take pride in that.”
“They did it together,” Mays agreed, comparing how he believes women in hip-hop have been able to be successful without (too much) dissension to men in the game. “When we come up, things are antagonistic. We battling, it’s always combat. You might get the artist talking sh-t online, but I ain’t seen one body. I actually love that they can compete and talk online and rap and go back and forth and then go do songs with each other and ain’t mad at each other no more. I love seeing that. I just can’t wait for the brothers in hip-hop to realize in this 50-year renaissance, which ain’t that old, that we don’t have to combat so much. It’s celebration time.”
The guys also talked about grateful they are for hip-hop, as it has been a gateway for even greater career opportunities than they could have imagined.
“Coming up we didn’t always have the opportunities that we have today. Music opened up those doors because it gave us the opportunity to touch so many people and to spread our wings and do different things, whether it’s clothing, whether it’s the restaurant business, so many different things that I’ve been a part of myself,” Maino shared. “It afforded me the opportunity to affect my family in a positive way. To get away from the street life, get away from prison and open up doors for me. And I think it’s done that for so many Black men all over.”
That’s certainly worth a toast.