25 Women To Know: Dream Hampton

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Dream Hampton

Chicks With Attitude
Visionary

Dream Hampton (and no that’s not her stripper name, it’s the one her daddy gave her inspired by MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech) is a hip hop writer and filmmaker with rap’s biggest stars as her best friends.  Responsible for penning the New York Time’s Bestseller Decoded and countless articles, she has emerged as the queen of music journalism.

“I was the first woman in the [Source] office before they got their receptionist, Stephanie, but I wasn’t the first female editor in chief at The Source,” (like it says on her Wikipedia page,” she adds, “some idiot keeps going back and rewriting my past.”

As a photo intern at the The Source, Dream realized her passion for writing when a copy of Easy E’s Hoes With Attitude arrived in the office.  While the rest of her colleagues shunned the album, Hampton decided to take it on.  “I took it and wrote the piece. You know, I overreached, throwing in bell hooks and things I’d read.” After that, Hampton started frequently writing one controversial piece after another. “My journalism school was the Village Voice,” Dream says recounting her first days in New York City as a film student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. “I didn’t experience real editing and real writing because I was in film school.”

Despite falling in love with hip-hop as a youngster growing up in Detroit, Hampton doesn’t self identify as hip-hop. Sure she ran away at eleven, taking a downtown bus to catch a new group called Run DMC, but Hampton stresses her love for all music. “I also ran away at fifteen to go to a Cure concert. I was just passionate about music. I saw all these concerts. Depeche Mode, Run DMC, The Cure, De La Soul! All those groups before I was 17.” These days, the writer/filmmaker turns to Billy Holiday, Nina Simone and Miles Davis when she’s in need of inspiration.

As a hip-hop insider Hampton is no stranger to questions about her relationships with Jay-z and the late Biggie Smalls.  Smalls and Hampton shared a close friendship prior to his death.  “We use to listen to music and talk on the phone for hours. “I talked to Big everyday from the day I met him ‘til the day he died. I was a talker and he let me talk! He was super quick and super smart, hilarious, fun.” Dream taught Biggie about Zora Neale Hurston and Ntozake Shange, he returned the favor by introducing her to “N***as For Life.” She invited him to film class and made him proof read her articles before she turned them in. To Dream, Biggie was the homie, her boy. To Biggie, Dream was big time since she worked at The Source.  A testimony to their friendship, his daughter T’Yanna’s middle name is Dream.

Dream Hampton’s imprint on the world is much larger than her friendships with the hip-hop royalty. From best sellers like Decoded to the dozens of articles she’s written for a who’s who of publications, Dream continues to evolve.  Lucky for us, she shares her story along the way.

Next: “GLEEked Out”: Amber Riley

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