What does Hip-Hop have to do with the Green Movement?
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Three years ago I joined forces with radio host and Hip-Hop activist Keith Tucker to develop an idea he had been working on; an exciting and timely film project called ‘Pursuit of a Green Planet’. The film will explore the ever-evolving ‘Green Movement’ as it intersects with issues of food, health, the environment, economics and popular youth culture. ‘Pursuit of a Green Planet’ is the first documentary to explore Hip Hop culture and its relationship to the Green movement.
The question we were asked most frequently when starting this project was ‘What does Hip-Hip have to do with the Green Movement?’ This question mainly came from those only peripherally familiar with Hip-Hop culture.
Most people who have not been immersed in Hip-Hop culture only see it through the lens of the mainstream media, where the basest, most materialist, hedonistic, nihilistic and commercially viable aspects are amplified. Hip-Hop has also been falsely characterized as just rap music. The violence, sexism and materialism portrayed as core values in commercial rap doesn’t represent the whole of Hip-Hop Culture or the values of the millions of youth and adult who grew up in it.
What most people don’t know is that Hip-Hop began as a form social and cultural activism in New York City (the South Bronx) in the late 1970s. During the late 1980s and early 1990s the culture developed a distinct political voice just as rap music gained a foothold in the economy of popular culture. The result was a bifurcation of values as portrayed through commercial (corporate sponsored) rap music and underground (independent, grassroots) Hip-Hop culture. For the past decade and a half the two streams have been flowing concurrently and evolving in unique ways. Rap music, through music videos, cinema, mainstream radio, commerce and merchandising has dominated the American conversation around youth culture. Meanwhile underground Hip-Hop culture has been quietly evolving as a progressive artistic, political and social force. It is a culture that is no longer the sole propriety of the youth as many adults frame their life work using the values they grew up with in Hip-Hop.
Keith Tucker and I, as members of the first two generations of Hip-Hop who came of age in the 1980s and early 1990s, have a deeper understanding of the culture and how it continues to shape the outlook of youth around the world. Youth whose lives, values, voices and visions for our world remain largely silent in the mainstream conversations about culture, politics, economics and the environment. In thinking about the issues surrounding the topic of this film; food, health and the environment, it was natural for us to use our understanding of Hip-Hop culture as a lens to explore how these issues are relevant to our communities. We also want to show how youth and adults who identify with Hip-Hop are already using the culture as an activist platform to affect change around these issues.
So in a nutshell, that is what we think Hip-Hop has to do with the Green Movement.
The main work of uncovering and piecing together this story still lay ahead of us. However as we continue to raise funds for this project we are able to present snapshots of what the landscape of Hip-Hop environmental activism looks like. This video is of a recent interview Keith Tucker did with Ashel Eldridge, Hip-Hop emcee, community activist and vegan.
Support our Indiegogo Fundraising Campaign!
We are raising funds to help make the project a success. Please visit our Indiegogo campaign site at www.indiegogo.com/PursuitofaGreenPlanet, where you can read more about our project and how to support us. We have a very ambitious goal, to raise $30,000 in 30 days. Our network of partners and supporters spans the nation. Every contribution, no matter the size, is important.