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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Panel hits on how global hip-hop and economic recovery relate


Hip-hop and economics are two words that seem to be far apart, but that actually closely tied, as discussed by entrepreneurs in the “Rap Sessions: Global Hip-Hop & Economic Recovery” panel Thursday evening.
Put on by the Africana Studies Program, MSC Carter G. Woodson Black Awareness Committee and several other groups, moderator and creator of Rap Sessions Bakari Kitwana was joined by hip-hop artists Akua Naru and Blitz the Ambassador and Giuseppe Pipitone, author of Unstoppable: The Roots of Hip-Hip in London, to discuss how the global economy is influenced by the entrepreneurship of hip-hop.
“This is a different America,” Kitwana said. “It’s not an America where people are working in the way that they were working, neither college educated people or not college educated people. So this conversation about economic recovery is really important and we want to look at, really, how we begin to empower people to understand that this this is a different reality, and whether you’re a college student or not, you’ve got to approach it with a different kind of attitude and a different kind of hustle.”
One of the issues discussed was how corporations are so dominant in American society. Naru said that after living out of the country for a while and then coming back, she was able to look past the narrow view and be more objective.
“I would like to see more people mobilize and start to put our money towards supporting those artists that we feel are more in alignment with who we are and what we represent,” Naru said. “I feel like there are a lot of artists, like Blitz, like myself, that are doing that.”
Blitz said his latest album cost him $30,000 and Naru’s latest cost her about the same.
“That’s 30 grand of money that’s not coming from some corporation, money that you saved up, money that’s for your wellbeing,” Blitz said. “But you care about your art, so you invest your money because you want to make the best possible art out of it.”
Blitz said that when artists put their own money into it, they get to create art that they love, while those that get the money from the corporations may have to make music they don’t necessarily like.
“Our job as entrepreneurs, as the community that supports the art, is everybody really getting to educate ourselves as to ways and means of supporting art that you like,” Blitz said. “And it’s not just sharing the YouTube link. It’s saying, this artist requires my $10 to be able to make more work and continue to sustain themselves.
One major part of the panel was each presenter’s personal experience with hip-hop. Blitz said that the first time he heard hip-hop music was when his older brother brought home a mixtape that he shared with him.
“The interesting thing was how immediately we identified with it and I think that one of the things that was happening at the time was, this was very early 90s, we still had a military dictatorship in Ghana, but just in terms of freedom of speech and being able to speak your mind was something that was very rare,” Blitz said. “Hip-hop had a certain confidence that none of us had at the time, or the music that we had at the time didn’t have, it felt like people that looked like us had found something that was very powerful, sometimes obscene, but always truth. We were amazed by it.”
Naru said that it was fate for her to make it in this industry. She took an opportunity with producers from California who were booking shows which lead to China and Thailand and she eventually ended up in Germany with a video camera and an internet connection.
“I was like ‘Turn this camera on me and let me do this rap.’ I was just killin’ ‘em, that’s my specialty, and I just took the video, cut it up and put it online,” Naru said. “I wasn’t thinking about it really, that’s why I’m saying it wasn’t intentional, but somebody was watching and then it was 10,000 views and then it was 20,000, then 50,000 and I was just working and recording music. I put an album out and people would come and ask ‘Could you do this show, could you do this, could you do that,’ and it just started growing.”
Naru said that coming from America, the automatic perception is that the hip-hop here is authentic and that even gender places a role. Pipitone backed this statement up, and said that if someone were to perform in Italy in the same manner they did in America, it would be humorous.
“We perceive it as it can be real coming from the U.S., maybe from certain areas of the U.S., but it Italy, it’s something that we don’t feel, it’s doesn’t belong to us,” Pipitone said. “So if someone goes there, he is acting, not telling his story, is not talking about his experiences. And that’s why in our country, like Ghana, like almost every country in the world, we took what we wanted from, or what we felt could represent us, from pop-culture, but then we adopt it to our cultural tradition.”
Jalyn Golden, junior and Vice Chair of WBAC said that she was very pleased with the turnout of the event.
“I feel like tonight helped us understand how hip-hop, global hip-hip, that it actually is global, how it affects the economy around us, not just from an American perspective, but an overall, worldly perspective,” Golden said.

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