By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Dozens of DJ’s gathered on Independence Mall Thursday to take back hip-hop.

They are planning a historic event, with the hope of returning the music back to its roots.

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Fifty-six DJ’s, one symbolic of each signer of the Declaration of Independence, lined up to sign the ‘Declaration of DJ-Pendence.’

11-year-old DJ on the turn tables. (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

11-year-old DJ on the turn tables. (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

“There’s a difference that people don’t understand between hip hop culture and rap culture,” says Curtis Sherrod — executive director of the Center for Hip Hope Culture.

At 40 years old, hip-hop has become commercialized with a focus on the “rap” part of the culture. But Sherrod says true hip hop actually has four elements: graffiti, DJs, break dancer and of course- the emcee.

“When the media got involved they turned [hip hop culture] into rap culture,” he says. “They talk about the jewelry, what kind of car you got– we were broke.”

To help underscore the truth of hip-hop, Sherrod is organizing “Rap-A-Con” on May 29th. The daylong event will bring in 250 DJ’s who will battle throughout the day in first of its kind event.

“We’re getting the largest group of DJs ever, setting a Guinness book of world record, performing at one time,” he explains.

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Bahamadia, one of the original ladies of hip-hop, was on hand Thursday.

Bahamadia performing. (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

Bahamadia performing. (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

She has taken on the role of spokesperson in an effort to highlight the goal of showing the other side of hip-hop before “marketing” and business efforts that moved hip hop away from its community focused core.

“The pioneer stages had a hobby and recreational leaning to it,” she says, “but hip-hop has grown up.”

She says Rap-A-Con is a celebration of DJ culture and works to unify hip hop at a time when its fragment:

“The DJ is a staple for us authentic hip-hoppers. The community picks the music and the DJ’s service them. The people used to dictate their taste– and I think it’s going back to that– back the days when d-jays were free.”

Thursday’s event included the declaration signing, DJ performances and a squad of free-style rappers.

Rap-A-Con takes place on May 29 at Park Avenue Banquet Hall. For more, CLICK HERE.

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