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Hip Hop Caucus bridges music and culture to shape politics

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Hip-hop, the most dominant music genre on the U.S. Billboard charts over the last four years, is now increasingly entering the political fray. Through the self-proclaimed “political arm” of the category, the Hip Hop Caucus, artists and activists alike are coming together over their shared love of culture to engage young people in key states before the midterm elections.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

LENNOX YEARWOOD: Culture is liberation. And so if there's anything limiting your freedom-- criminal justice system, education, health care-- then you can use culture to create change to make that better.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

My name is Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr. Everybody calls me Rev. Yearwood. And I am the president and the CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus. The Hip Hop Caucus is an amazing organization that uses one's cultural expression to shape one's political experience.

We use culture to create change in our communities. And since 2004, getting close 18 years, getting close to being an adult, we have been organizing, mobilizing, energizing, particularly young people, young people of color, BIPOC communities-- Black, Brown, Indigenous people of color-- to create change from democracy to voting rights to the death penalty to climate change.

- Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr.

[CHEERING]

LENNOX YEARWOOD: The West is on fire. My home state of Louisiana is under water, and so was New York and New Jersey. This is code red for the planet.

The reason why it's important to be engaging with the culture is because culture is everything, and everyone has a culture. And so what we're talking about is using who you are, everything about you to make sure that environment is better. We understand that either you shape policy or policy shapes you. And so I think that's the real issue here, that we are engaging in that aspect.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

We've had so many artists who've been engaged you. When I first started, I was working with artists like Diddy, and Jay-Z, and Beyonce, in the very beginnings of this campaign, but then see younger artists, artists that we're not as young anymore. But I guess from the 2 Chainz, and Ciara, and many others, and to see their group. And you're seeing artists who are coming in, who you know want to get engaged.

It's like we have Republicans and Democrats. [CHUCKLES] Artists have different viewpoints, too. They're not all the same. And so some of them have different-- what they want to see get done. Some of them want to see the school-to-prison pipeline. You know, like Common wanted to see that get done. There are some artists who want to see public schools be reinforced.

Successful campaigns of Hip Hop Caucus, in regards to Respect My Vote!, means that we have moved up the numbers for voting in this country, typically around young people of color-- Black, Brown, Indigenous community. The second thing would be to see folks getting engaged with policy and understanding the importance of policy. All power to the people here for Hip Hop Caucus.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

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