You listen to hip hop music on the radio, but do you stop to listen, really listen, to the words? That is the question that local rapper and activist Khafre Jay poses to his students.
Jay runs a non-profit in Oakland called HipHopForChange Inc. His goal is to create a more positive image of hip hop that does not reinforce the stereotypical images perpetuated by the mainstream music industry. “We’re trying to put our real image out there, so people can see our real culture, instead of making stereotypical tropes of our culture to entertain themselves with,” Jay said. “Those tropes that criminalize our black and brown youth.”
His organization runs a K-12 educational program in Oakland schools where they teach kids about the history of hip hop, eventually having them writing their own lyrics that reflect their lives. “We teach kids about the history and tradition of hip hop, where it comes from and how it’s really been taken away from us,” he says.
Jay also works with local rappers to give them a platform to share their stories and make a living. “We have shows to support local hip hop artists who aren’t going to be on the radio, and who won’t open for Lil Wayne when he comes out here,” he said. “Artists who reflect the collective conscience of hip hop.”