The Coolout Keeps it HotJuly 18th, 2010
For 19 years The Coolout Network has been a stage for Seattle’s Hip Hop community to shine.
by Tajuan LaBee
Georgio Brown stands in the middle of the small carpeted room of ITV Northwest Studios bobbing his head to Macklemore’s “The Town”. He is also chatting with five other people in the room which include local rapper, Demetrius “Spaceman” Beaumonte, DJ CB4, and head of ITVNW Studios, Darran Bruce. Behind him at waist lever are two small monitors displaying Macklemore’s, Zia Mohajerjasbi directed video for “The Town”. The video is also being projected onto the two walls on both sides of Georgio as he faces a camera mounted near the ceiling in front of him, it’s one of four used to record the show. This is an end of an episode of The Coolout Sessions, an online Seattle Hip Hop video show that broadcasts live every Tuesday from 6pm-8pm from the IVT Northwest Studios in Pioneer Square. Macklemore’s video was suppose to close out the show for the night, but it has just been brought to Georgio’s attention that someone there is celebrating a birthday tonight, so he is waiting until the video is over to give that person a birthday shout out. He gives the shout out, does his final sign off for the night, and all the monitors and projections around him fade to black. That desire to provide a space for others to shine has driven The Coolout Network since it’s inception in 1990. “Coolout is a stage,” Georgio says. “It gives local cats a chance to be seen.” Tonight the show was seen by 2,400 people online at an average of 75 people per hour, a record for the show. Normally they average about 60 viewers per hour.
New York born, Georgio Brown got his first camera when he was 18. “I always filmed cats in New York but never did anything with it.” In the late 80s, roughly around the time that Georgio was leaving New York for Seattle, he became a fan of a show called Video Music Box, a video hip video show, “…before Yo! Mtv Raps.”
Once in Seattle, Georgio began spending time at the local television studio, SCAN TV, where he saw another music video show being produced. The show was called, Music in the City. Watching that show would end up having a major effect on Brown. “It was Video Music Box that inspired me and when I saw Music in the City, I was like, ‘I can do that.’”
In 1991 Georgio created Coolout TV. His vision with the show was “…to give positive media exposure to Hip Hop artists and promote Northwest Hip Hop culture,” and take, “…Hip Hop culture directly into viewer’s homes.” In the early days of the show most of the content consisted of local live hip hop shows, but he would also get interviews with national acts like, Mary J. Blige, Master P., Doug E. Fresh, and Seattle’s own, Sir Mix-A-Lot. The show made Georgio a recognized and respected face in Seattle’s hip hop community. After awhile however, the show began to focus strictly on local acts because of a disparity of support for Seattle artist from the national media outlets. “At first, people use to just send me videos, until I decided to stop showing national videos because they [national media outlets] don’t support local artist,” Brown explained.
The Coolout Network was on SCAN TV for 16 years before Georgio decided to retire the television format in favor of the internet, turning the television show, Coolout TV, into the web show, The Coolout Sessions, continuing The Coolout Network’s exposure of the local Hip Hop community. “I think I’m a local artist promoter,” Georgio explains.
Coolout is called a network because through working with artist, music industry leaders, community leaders, business leaders, various art programs, and non-profits Coolout has built a network “…to build Hip Hop culture through positive media exposure and cultural events which serve the community.” This service to the community has resulted in Georgio Brown winning several awards for Coolout, one of which was the Mayor’s Award back in 2004.
In addition to winning awards, Coolout has also been the starting grounds for a few Seattleites in the Hip Hop and media arts community. Judi Martinez (a.k.a. Kitty Wu), the manager of Hip Hop acts like, Khingz and Shabazz Palaces, was once a co-producer of The Coolout Network, and Darran Bruce, the creator of ITV Northwest Studios and ITVNW.com, started early in his media career as a host, and then a producer of Coolout TV.
At present time Georgio is working a documentary that chronicles 20 years of Seattle Hip Hop in an effort to, “make a movie about the scene I’ve been documenting for the last 19 years.” So far he has gathered interviews from 70 people talking about Seattle Hip Hop from 1980 to 2010. Georgio plans on releasing the film next year in conjunction with The Coolout Network’s 20th anniversary. On April 3rd of this year however, The Coolout Network will be celebrating their 19th anniversary with a concert at The Crocodile Cafe featuring 19 acts that are featured in the documentary.