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Global Hip-Hop Music with a Message


Hip-hop artists sing about important social issues for young people. Transcript of radio broadcast:

VOICE ONE:

I'm Doug Johnson.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Faith Lapidus with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we tell about more hip-hop music artists who are spreading their messages around the world.

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VOICE ONE:

Hip-hop music is popular around the world. Hip-hop artists created their own Declaration of Peace that is recognized by the United Nations. Socially conscious hip-hop artists spread messages of peace, security, unity, forgiveness and happiness. Often, their songs teach young people about human rights and fighting for their freedoms so they can have a better future.

VOICE TWO:

DAM is known as the first Palestinian group to sing hip-hop. Members of the group are Tamer Nafar, his younger brother Suhell and Mahmoud Jreri. They lived in the poor area of Lod, just outside Tel Aviv. It is a town where both Israeli Jews and Arabs live.

The group's music is influenced by the Israeli and Palestinian conflict as well as social issues that affect people's freedoms. In an interview with Time Magazine, Tamer Nafar said that the conflict is their life and their window; whatever they see, they write about. They also sing about issues such as terrorism, violence linked to illegal drugs and women's rights. The group sings in Arabic, English and Hebrew.

DAM hopes to teach young people about their history and rights. They tell children not to be influenced by other people, but to learn on their own what is right and what is wrong. Children sing with them on the song Ng'Ayer Bukra, which means Change Tomorrow. The children sing that they want education and the ability to change tomorrow.

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VOICE ONE:

The Israeli group Hadag Nahash also sings about the Palestinian and Israeli conflict in some of their songs. Other songs deal with issues like racism, women's rights, Israeli economics, class divisions and politics. They want young people to question the issues that affect them and the future of Israeli society. Their political songs have caused public debates in Israeli newspapers, radio and television stations, and even Israel's parliament.

In the thirteen years the group has been together, Hadag Nahash has produced five CDs and has performed around the world. Many people have become interested in the band because of their song called "The Sticker Song."

The song includes words from stickers that are placed on cars in Israel. These bumper stickers are usually about political issues.

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VOICE TWO:

Socially conscious hip-hop has become a popular form of music around the world. It is possible that every country has at least one or two socially conscious hip-hop singers or groups. However, sometimes it is not easy to learn about these artists. Their music is suppressed in countries where freedom of expression is limited. These artists fear that they will get in trouble with the government if they sing about political issues. Some musicians do sing about political and social issues in suppressed societies. However, these musicians often sing in secret and their music is not widely known.

VOICE ONE:

In China, rap or hip-hop has become a popular form of music. The musicians sing in Cantonese, Mandarin or other local languages. Many artists sing about issues that affect them and their Chinese listeners.

Some artists sing about social issues, but they do not sing about political issues or the government. Andreas Hwang, also called Young Kin, told VOA that he is at ease with performing or singing songs that include political and social issues. He said that if his musical career in China were to end, he could continue it somewhere else.

Young Kin was born in Switzerland, but moved to China at a young age. In the past, he has said that making political statements in music could result in the end of your job as a singer, being put in jail or being forced to leave the country. Young Kin believes that the socially conscious hip-hop movement will become more widespread in China after Chinese society goes through changes.

VOICE TWO:

In Brazil, artists use hip-hop to express social inequalities and racial issues. In the largest city, Sao Paulo, one of the oldest hip-hop groups is Racionais MC's. They started their music group in nineteen eighty-eight. Their songs are about social injustices in the city, including police violence against young people.

Many of their songs are about people living in poor areas called favelas. The members, Mano Brown, Ice Blue, Edy Rock and DJ KL Jay, all lived in favelas. The singers are also activists for the work and goals of their songs. In nineteen ninety-two Racionais MC's joined forces with Brazil's Ministry of Education. They visited schools to teach people about life in the favelas, including issues related to drugs, police violence, poverty and racism. They have also used their music to earn money for health clinics, youth sports programs and schools. In two thousand nine they released their sixth album called Ta Na Chuva.

VOICE ONE:

In Rio de Janeiro, a famous hip-hop artist called Marcelo D2 also lived in a favela. However, when he turned thirteen he left the area to work. Some of his friends who remained in the favelas were killed in gun battles with criminal groups. His first productions in hip-hop were in nineteen ninety-five in a group called Planet Hemp. Three years later he left the group and produced his own album. His songs are about his life experiences. Marcelo D2 became famous when he created a new form of hip-hop by mixing it with the Brazilian music called samba.

Marcelo D2 has performed with famous American hip-hop artists such as will-i-am from the Black Eyed Peas. He has also performed with the famous Brazilian musician Sergio Mendes.

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VOICE TWO:

Wyclef Jean is one of the top socially conscious hip-hop artists in the world. Wyclef was born in Haiti. At the age of nine he moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York and later to New Jersey. He was a member of the hip-hop group called the Fugees with Lauryn Hill and Prakazrel Samuel Michel, also known as Pras.

Wyclef has since released seven of his own CDs and will have an eighth coming out in January. Wyclef's songs are a mix of social and political issues as well as entertainment. Many of his songs are about the life of refugees or immigrants in the United States. Wyclef brings attention to the injustices some immigrants experience in the United States.

VOICE ONE:

In two thousand five, Wyclef formed the Yeli Haiti Foundation.

The foundation works on issues such as education, health, environment and community development. It also works with the World Food Organization and the Pan American Development Foundation to help Haitians, especially after the food shortage riots last year. In two thousand seven, Haitian President Rene Preval appointed Wyclef a traveling ambassador to represent the country. Recently, Wyclef travelled to Haiti with former President Bill Clinton and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon .

This past summer, the Black Entertainment Television network, BET, honored Wyclef with its Award for Humanitarian Work. And Wyclef was named hip-hop's unofficial multicultural conscience.

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VOICE TWO:

This program was written by Kim Varzi and produced by Dana Demange. I'm Faith Lapidus.

VOICE ONE:

And I'm Doug Johnson. You can download podcasts and comment on our programs at our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

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