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When Hip Hop Speaks

Jay Z narrated a short film titled “War on Drugs” in a partnership with a social impact organization Revolve Impact. The 3-minute narrative focuses on artwork drawn by Molly Crabapple depicting the “war on drugs”. For some of us this “war” undoubtedly targets Black-Americans and people of other ethnicities and we’ve known this since the “war” began. As a reminder Jay Z didn’t write the narrative he simply read what was on the paper for him to read so shout out to the author who was able to summarize what our communities go through in a small 3-minute window. I really enjoyed the short film and I encourage educators in the traditional and non-traditional classrooms to discuss the film with their students and/or mentees. The topic of this blog isn’t the film itself but the use of Jay for the narrative.

It’s not enough to hire someone who has the experience as a narrator or doing voice overs but to go out and get one of the greatest emcees of all time sends the message to a broader and very different audience. This in turn enhances the message of the short film making it more relatable to the average person including those who are not from those forgotten communities. When Hip Hop speaks people listen. Rakim said MC means move the crowd but not every Rapper or emcee can move the type of crowd that Jay can. When Jay was casted for as the narrator the folks at Revolve Impact wanted to make an impact and all of this right before the Congressional Black Caucus. (The Caucus being held after most of the primaries is another story) Only certain people in the industry can grab the ears of every person in the Hip Hop Community; the OGs in jail and prison, the street hustlers, the bosses, those who get legal money, the kids, the grandparents, the rich, the poor, the educated, the ignorant, and everyone else in between. Can you name any Rapper alive that also has the same power?

They may have the same platform and the same fans but every good emcee knows that it’s all about the money, power, respect, and the delivery. Hip Hop Culture has always been the voice of the voiceless however our voice is powerful and capable of making impactful change. Jay isn’t the only powerful voice in our communities. There are many Jay Z’s in our local communities that have a voice and have the power to start a “war” or end a “beef”. We need to gather these women and men and have them speak to the communities about how to have our own social impact but on a smaller scale. We have local elections coming up and we could be impactful at the polls. We can be impactful at school board and PTA meetings. We could be impactful by joining community review boards. There is so much that we can do in our own communities that have a direct impact on politics, funding, and policies. You don’t have to be a writer, a rapper, an emcee, or a lyricist to be considered a member of the Hip Hop Community. You are the most important person in the Hip Hop Community, you’re the consumer. So when Hip Hop speaks make sure you have a clear message so that when the mic gets handed to you the impact can be that much greater.