Hip-hop artists say music benefits the community

More than 40 GW students and D.C. residents gathered at Jack Morton Auditorium Friday to listen to panelists support the social and political movement within the hip-hop community.

The United Nations Association – a nonprofit U.N. support group – and The Hip-Hop Association – a nonprofit organization endorsing hip-hop music – hosted “Hip-Hop Ambassadors Bridging the Gap!”

“You can use hip-hop as a vehicle to educate . (education) has always been a part of hip-hop,” said George Martinez, a panelist and member of the Hip-Hop Association.

Ben Herson, founder of the international hip-hop record company Nomadic Wax, said a musician can have a great impact on people, but a lot of today’s music is not playing a significant force in shaping people’s actions for the good of society.

“Music can be used to engage people and make them think,” Herson said. “Right now we don’t have a lot of this kind of music.”

He added, “You can watch a movie like “Blood Diamond” and before you buy (a diamond) you’re gonna think twice . thus art can be used for change.”

Panelist Moussa Sall, a hip-hop artist from Senegal, spoke out against the atrocities that the government committed against the people in her country. Sall and other Senegalese rappers performed at concerts where they addressed the lack of food distribution within the country, disappearance of funds from the treasury and an abundance of unpaid Senegalese teachers.

“(The Senegalese rappers) decided that we were going to involve ourselves more politically.”

Azbac, another musical talent in Senegal, later told the audience that he tries to let his audiences know that that people in his country have inferior living conditions.

“In the concerts we let (the audience) know that people don’t got health insurance (and) people don’t got food,” he said. “We give you the information so if you go to vote (then) you don’t vote for this person.”

The Senegalese rappers said their efforts in 2000 aided in keeping former Senegalese President Abdou Diouf from remaining in office.

Christina Anderson, chair of the United Nations Association, said the event was a success.

“Whatever your passion is you can use it to assist the UNA or create change in your community,” she said.

Organizers said students interested in empowering the members of their community can attend The International Hip-Hop Festival, will host a group of musicians around the world.

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