How To Organize Hip Hoppers
by Davey D

Wasup Davey D.

At my radio station here up in Burnaby, B.C. Canada we're getting prepared for a special day of focused programming on Hip Hop and Free Mumia, or in other words hip hop and social activism/politics. We're trying to promote and support the idea that hip hop heads need to become more socially aware and engaged in grassroots activism. I thought I'd write you cause you do a lot of this already.

I was wondering how you get hip hop people motivated and started in grassroots activism? You seem to have a lot of success with this so I'm interested in hearing what worked for you and what did not work for you. Also is there any resources or points of information that I get get a hold of where I can get more info on hip hop activism? I guess what I'm saying is that can you tell me who within the hip hop community is already socially active and what they do? I want to be able to present to people some of the positive aspects of hip hop artists and such that usually and otherwise go unspoken. Both as a motivational tool as well as a means to say, "Hey look this issues are important, let's all get involved, and raise the awareness together as a community." Any help in this would be great appreciated. We, about five different groups, are meeting tomorrow to set up direction and focus and outline what we want to do and accomplish and how to go about doing it and - basically gettin ourselves organized. Thanks for your time and help.


Davey D responds:


There is no one answer to your question.. your ability to motivate Hip Hoppers in your area will be dependent upon your relationship with them already. In other words you will have to have 'one on one' conversations with the people you wish to get motivated. You will also need to find ways in which they could easily plug in and utilize their skillz. Some artist will be committed Activist like Dead Prez, Boots or Micheal Franti are some examples. Other artist will be spark plugs that can attract people. From experience, as much as you would like to use artist to promote a cause, if they do not want to be down, don't try and force the issue. Build your cause around Hip Hoppers who are down. Make heroes out of the artists who are willing to support and step out. Far too often we chase individuals who don't want to do anything and completely overlook and take for granted the artists who are willing to put in the work and be down. These are the individuals that should be uplifted by the community. Make sure the artist you target are aware of the issues..because by default they will be spokespersons..

For example, Boots recently contacted 35 emcees to do a song for a big issue here in Cali. He spent a lot of time working with the artists and making sure they were educated on the cause he wanted them to address. he also brought to light how the issue was related to them as people. This made it easier for them to get involved. He also conducted a number of workshops to help bring this political education. Afterwards he was able to send many of the artist out to be spokespeople. Make sure these artists are educated on your cause..If not, they will do more harm then good.

Finally see how you can work with the local rappers and Hip Hoppers.. Can the graf artist make flyers. Will some of the artist donate talent and time to do concerts or voice commercials and PSAs. Can you put their picture on a flyer with them endorsing your position? All this boils down to one on one communication.. Mos Def noted that when he wanted artists to take part in the anti-police brutality song he and Talib put together, he picked up a phone and reached out. You will have to take similar measures.

Davey D

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