Peace, Unity, Love and Havin’ Fun are fun to talk about, but it seems that some young hip hop artists are really working toward that end, through both their music and activism.
A$AP Rocky, whose current album just debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Charts, expressed his hope of encouraging open-minded attitudes, free from prejudice, in a recent Pitchfork interview. In it, Rocky talks about the potential of music as an instrument of change. He says, "We really need to make this shit a new revolution." He says, "I want to inspire people to really open up their minds and not be one-sided or biased or hypocritical or... I just want to change people, because the world is a fucked-up place and a lot of people gave up on trying to change it." He sums it up by saying, "I want to be the first guy to help people accept everybody for who they are. I'm talking about colors, religions, sex, everybody."
Rocky's talk of inspiring unity isn’t the only recent example of rappers extending themselves beyond their music. Last week, rappers 2Chainz and Meek Mill, were recognized at the Hip Hop Inaugural Ball for their community participation and activism.
2Chainz was recognized for promoting civic engagement. In a Rolling Stone article, 2Chainz has described how he mistakenly thought that ex-felons were not allowed to vote. He described learning that he was not prohibited from voting in 2008 as ‘life changing’. In the last two Presidential election cycles 2Chainz was an active promoter of voting as part of the Hip Hop Caucus’ ‘Respect the Vote’ campaign. The rapper took on the role as National spokesperson for the 2012 campaign, urging his fans, "Whatever it is that you care about, make sure you use your voice... It is truly what makes us all equal."
He also urged folks to stay informed and involved after election day; "I encourage everyone to pay attention to the issues that matter to you, from jobs and the economy, to education and our schools, to criminal justice reform."
At the Hip Hop Inaugural Ball, Philadelphia rapper Mill Meek was also honored for his commitment to working with young people.
It's cool to see young artists who are committed to empowering others and bringing people together. Hopefully, their voices are representative of a larger generation that values inclusion, civic participation and community involvement.