What is it about a cancer diagnosis that feels so personal?
It could be that cancer is an unwelcome guest in our home that doesn’t knock or provide an estimated time of arrival. It shows up unannounced and doesn’t get the hint to leave.
When cancer arrives, its impact is felt by everyone living inside — not just the individual diagnosed. Friends, family, loved ones, and community members all rally around to best provide support in any way possible. Whether support comes emotionally or takes shape in the form of a fundraiser, a cancer diagnosis becomes a group effort to manage.
For Jordan Johnson, better known in the Portland hip-hop community by his stage name Iamjordan, he’s all too familiar with cancer.
“Cancer is personal to me and has impacted my life in many ways. My mother is a survivor who beat breast cancer two years ago. My uncle passed away from colon cancer and my grandmother passed away from sarcoma.”
After losing his grandmother, Jordan needed an outlet — a release to help cope with the emotional toll cancer takes on someone who’s caring for a loved one with the diagnosis. It was music Jordan turned to and found to be that much-needed release.
“Music was my resource for healing when my grandmother passed. I started to record more after she passed to help me grieve. That’s when I started Hip Hop Fighting Cancer as a way to bring everyone together who’s lost a loved one to cancer.”
While music started as a personal outlet for Jordan, it quickly grew into something much bigger and inspirational. Established in 2019, Hip Hop Fighting Cancer is a non-profit whose mission is to provide live music to the local community, and, in return, raise money for cancer research and assist local community members with their medical bills.
When asked who in the Portland hip-hop community was vital in making Hip Hop Fighting Cancer a reality, someone who provided insight and advice, Jordan was quick to point out Portland Trail Blazers in-arena DJ, OG One.
“OG One played a major part. He is a cancer survivor himself, and he has been able to provide his knowledge and experience to help coordinate community activities. OG One is our brand ambassador. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize Welcome To The Neighborhood and Mic Check creator DJ Klyph for all that they’ve done and the role they played in helping get Hip Hop Fighting Cancer off the ground and running.”
Witnessing first-hand the impact cancer has had on his family only fuels Jordan’s motivation and desire to raise funds for cancer research. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordan hosted multiple live hip-hop shows under his non-profit’s umbrella, donating proceeds from each event to the Knight Cancer Institute.
When asked what made the Knight Cancer Institute near and dear to his heart, Jordan recounted, “My grandmother was a patient at OHSU so I wanted to make sure we donated money to OHSU for our first-ever event.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the logistics several times for this year’s Hip Hop Fighting Cancer festival, an annual event that takes place during Portland Hip Hop Week in late August, the event will still go on, albeit virtually, later this month with proceeds benefiting the Knight Cancer Institute.
If you’re looking to support Hip Hop Fighting Cancer or simply want to listen to local artists, this year’s event can be streamed live on Twitch, starting at 8pm on August 21st.