Hip Hop Don't Stop

Posted Mar 13 2006

Summit combines music, culture and issues. (City View, Nov. 11, 1999

NAACP Hip Hop Youth

Summit & Concert

Saturday, Nov. 13


McGregor Auditorium

Wayne State University, Detroit

Admission for summit and concert: $8
includes continental breakfast, lunch, door
prizes and more. Group rates available.

For more information, call
Becky L. Burton at 313-871-2087

Although you can't tell by listening to the radio or watching MTV, hip hop is deeply rooted in social activism and the empowerment of young people. Remember the hit "Planet Rock?" The South Bronx, NY artist behind it, Afrika Bambaataa, founded the Universal Zulu Nation in 1973 to combat gang violence and to promote peace, understanding, justice and knowledge through hip-hop. As the influence of the music and culture has grown exponentially, more and more organizations, such as the NAACP, are using hip hop as a method of reaching out to young people. On November 13, the Detroit branch of the NAACP will host its Fourth Annual Hip Hop Youth Summit and Conference, "Politickin' For the 2G," at McGregor Auditorium on the Wayne State campus. The gathering will highlight technological, economical and political issues facing young people.

"Hip-hop music poses a never-ending controversial atmosphere, however its power to disseminate information quickly and effectively makes for a new and innovative way to reach out to our youth," says NAACP Detroit branch president Wendell Anthony. Khary Kimani Turner, chair of the NAACP young adult committee says hip hop has received a bad "rap," gaining negative attention for violence at concerts and profanity in lyrics. "Every major corporation, in trying to reach the younger generation, has utilized rap music and hip-hop culture in their marketing strategies," Turner says. "The young adult committee has made a commitment to prepare the hip-hop generation for the facts of life so that we can begin to utilize rap music in an effort to raise the consciousness of our communities in the areas of politics, economics and technology for the 21st century."

Combining educational workshops with musical performances by Detroit-based hip-hop performers, the summit has grown tremendously since its inaugural session in 1996. This year's summit has already attracted a long list of sponsors including 105.9 WDTJ, WB20, Bank One, Groovy Train, Video Go Go and the Detroit Area Task Force on Self Esteem. Attendees will hear firsthand from other young people who have combined their love for hip-hop culture with social activism and political organizing.

Conrad Muhammad, former minister of the Nation of Islam's Harlem Mosque No. 7, is expected to be the main draw for the day; he will deliver the keynote address. "I'm coming to Detroit with a message of hope for the brothers and sisters who have given up hope," Muhammad said in an interview from New York. "One of the things about hip hop is that no matter how brilliant it is, no matter how powerful it is, there is a lot of cynicism" among its enthusiasts.

Muhammad says he will encourage summit participants to use their musical and creative energy to politically organize and affect their future. "Today, young hip-hop heads have an opportunity to vote," he adds. "They have polls, here in New York City, downstairs in the projects, and people still walk right past them." He says the hip-hop generation "has not seized the stage of the country, politically."
Muhammad adds: "I've challenged rappers: Since you love the hood so much; since you never left the hood; since you're true to the hood, and you can sell 1 million records, you can run for office and win 10,000 votes. "People thought I was crazy when I first started talking about the connection between fame and politics, but now you have (Minnesota governor) Jesse Ventura, you have Warren Beatty, you have Donald Trump talking about running for office."

The minister gained notoriety in the hip-hop community for his role in mediating conflicts between different artists and organizing the Hip Hop Day of Atonement following Tupac Shakur's death in 1996. Since leaving the Nation of Islam, Muhammad founded CHHANGE (Conscious Hip Hop Activism Necessary for Global Empowerment), a nonprofit organization that seeks to politically mobilize hip-hop supporters and youth into a cohesive political force. CHHANGE has registered several thousand young people as voters and Muhammad himself has discussed the possibility of running for political office. In spite of his history with the Nation of Islam, Muhammad is apparently taking a more mainstream approach to reaching out to young people. In a recent interview with Vibe magazine, he was quoted as saying "I definitely see a movement that involves people of all colors, different races, and different religions. We all inhabit the world, and as young people, we are going to inherit the world."

On the educational side of things, a series of workshops is highlighted by Rap Coalition founder Wendy Day's workshop, "The True Cash Flow." Day, of New York, started the Rap Coalition as an advocacy group to support, educate and unify hip-hop artists and producers. Among the organization's activities are informational seminars, contract negotiation and mediation for artists and health and dental benefits. The respect and appreciation artists have for her work is evident by glancing at the hip-hop who's who serving on the Board of Advisors. Public Enemy's Chuck D, Naughty by Nature's Vinnie and Ras Kass are only a few of the artists involved. At the negotiation table, Day has been instrumental in securing deals for Eminem, Master P's No Limit Records and Cash Money Records' 30 million dollar deal with Universal. Other workshops include "Keeping it On the Download," sponsored by WB20. Sharon McClendon, director of the station's community affairs, says the presentation will focus on Y2K and how it pertains to youth as well as technology's impact on young people. Other workshops will address topics such as staying in school.

The days activities will conclude with a hip-hop concert, headlined by Detroit native, recording artist Cha Cha. A few years back she made some noise with the Rabeez before picking up her solo deal with Sony/Noontime and rhyming with the likes of Nas Escobar on her recently released album. Opening for her will be M.A.D.D. K.L.I.K., Legion, Soular Eclipse and Flinstone. A fine combination of education, music, and networking, the NAACP Hip Hop Youth Summit shows that hip-hop's original lesson hasn't been totally forgotten.


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