How Hip Hop Has Become A Force For Social Change [Pics]

PSFK attended rapper Lupe Fiasco’s organization’s first event which raised over $2,500 for the Horn of Africa at the panel alone, and discussed the music genre’s role in advocating justice.

The Fiasco Street Team, an organization inspired by Lupe Fiasco to bring about positive social change, hosted its first event at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights on Saturday. The discussion centered around the cultural image and significance of hip hop–specifically its role in promoting social justice–and what the future of the genre will hold. Panelists included founder of Rap Genius (a website that explains hip hop lyrics and critiques it as poetry) Mahbod Moghadam, musician Ayo The Nigerian Nightmare, activist and documentary filmmaker Byron Hurt, MC Nitty Scott, writer at XXL Magazine Jay Rodriguez, rapper Dosage, rapper and writer Toni Blackman, and of course, Lupe Fiasco.

Panel Highlights:

  • Hip hop began as a lifestyle, an art, an expression, that become more defined as there was a need to commercialize it.
  • Analyses that reduce hip hop to issues like homophobia or sexism ignore aspects that achieve the opposite. This hurts artists, listeners, and activism.
  • A lot of the negativity in hip hop, while harmful and worthy of critique, reflects realities that exist in the culture and should not be censored, but rather, discussed openly.
  • Women are going to play a critical role in what happens next for hip hop, and they should feel empowered to use it as a medium to speak out.
  • A lack of public conversation about issues like racism, sexism, and homophobia is a result of who is in power, silencing those who are not.
  • Hip hop can be used in the classroom to engage students.
  • Before we can decide what an educated consumer is, we must decide how to measure education.

Key Quotes:

  • “What you contribute on a daily basis, and the life that you live — that is your contribution to the world.” –Nitty Scott
  • “You should want to seek out the lyrics, the music. If you’re in hip-hop, you’re an active listener; you’re not complacent.” –Jay Rodriguez
  • “What people fear most about losing their race is that they have to come to terms with something much more real, and that’s humanity.” –Lupe Fiasco
  • “I don’t believe we need to sacrifice culture in order to have community.” –Toni Blackman

Click the thumbnails below for more image from the event.

Images via Avery Li, available here.

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