4/14/22: Virtual Talks with Video Activists: “Catalyst: Duro Wicks’ History of Chicago Hip Hop”

A virtual screening/discussion with filmmaker Dave Steck & "Hip Hop Godfather" Duro Wicks, moderated by poet and radio DJ Mario Smith.


On Thursday, April 14th, at 6 pm Central Time, Media Burn Archive hosted a sneak preview of the soon-to-be-released documentary “Catalyst: Duro Wicks’ History of Chicago Hip Hop.” It featured a discussion with filmmaker Dave Steck and “Hip Hop Godfather” Duro Wicks, moderated by poet, educator, activist and radio show host Mario Smith.

Watch the full event recording here.

Duro Wicks has been called “one of the godfathers of the Wicker Park hip hop scene.” Duro fell in love with hip hop long before it was easily accessible in Chicago, so he wanted to create a place for people with similar passions to gather. After several false starts, he ended up running the first hip hop open mic night(s) in the city at a basement club called The Lower Links. It brought in hundreds of kids every from all over the city and suburbs, which was rare in the segregated early ’90’s. After a short, but wildly popular run, the club ended up being a victim of its own success when neighbors and other business owners in Wrigleyville, unhappy with all the kids hanging out in the street every week, took action and got the club shut down.

Now, thirty years later, Duro’s rags-to-riches-to-rags story of music, passion, culture, Chicago history and Black entrepreneurship is finally being brought to light in a new film called “Catalyst: Duro Wicks’ History of Chicago Hip Hop.” This event will be a first chance for audiences to preview this not-yet-released documentary and to hear from Duro himself.

Dave Steck is the director of the film. He is Numeric Pictures’ founder and an award-winning, twice Emmy award-nominated Creative Director and Executive Producer (and a vetted member of the Producers Guild of America). He has proven success in overseeing productions from development through delivery in deadline-driven environments across a variety of screens, ranging from high budget projects supervising production for large companies (Viacom, Discovery, Disney, Miramax, NBC, Lionsgate, Mattel, etc.) to no-budget passion projects as an artist and “one man band”.

See more of his film work here:


Chicago poet, educator, activist, producer, and radio host Mario Smith has been representing the city of Chicago and, more specifically, the South Side of Chicago for the better part of two and a half decades. You can catch Mario Smith on the airwaves as the host of ‘News From the Service Entrance‘ on WLPN-LP in Chicago. He’s also the host of the Randomly Selected podcast and is a contributor to WBEZ (NPR) and Vocalo.org. His poetry appears in books Power Lines: A Decade Of Poetry from Chicago’s Guild Complex and The BreakBeat Poets as published by Haymarket Press. He is affectionately known as “The Mayor of Hyde Park.”

This event was free to attend. Media Burn is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and we depend on donations to continue our work. If you enjoyed watching this event, please consider making a donation at https://mediaburn.org/donate/  or by texting MEDIABURN to 44321.





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