Dee-1 performs at the Hip-Hop for Hope concert.
Hip-Hop for Hope
10 p.m. Sat., Nov. 14
Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door
Against a backdrop of hip-hop's negative associations with misogyny, materialism and auto-tuning, Ben Brubaker decided to spin the genre's image in a positive direction when he and a group of fellow Tulane students created Hip-Hop for Hope in 2006. The group was working on a project in an African Diaspora Studies class and set out to use hip-hop to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.
"The first installment focused on the health care crisis post-Katrina and on how hip-hop could influence the way kids think about their choices sexually and socially," Brubaker says. The event became an annual fundraiser and in three years collected $19,200 for local charities, including $12,500 for the Dr. King Charter School in the 9th Ward, and $6,700 for the Upward Bound program to help high school students prepare for college.
Hip-Hop for Hope continues its campaign to give the genre a positive image. Other locals fighting the same battle include concert promoter Chuck "Lyrikill" Jones and his monthly Soundclash beat battle crew, and MC Truth Universal's GrassRoots artist showcase posse. Both factions have been cleaning up public parks and hosting hip-hop industry events for kids, and both are sponsors of the upcoming Hip-Hop for Hope.
This year, the concert focus shifts to education. Though HIV/AIDS information and condoms will be distributed, the event is raising funds for three arts education programs: Derrick Tabb's Roots of Music Program, Wild Wayne's Benjamin Foundation, which runs a summer camp designed to keep kids off the street, and a co-host of this year's Hip-Hop For Hope, 2-Cent Entertainment. "2-Cent makes inspiring videos with kids at their Change We Can Create summer program," Brubaker says. "Videography, acting, the kids do everything. And 2-Cent did it off a zero budget last year. So if we even raise them a couple thousand, that helps them a lot.
"But the real, main focus of the concert is to have a big, diverse crowd of all different people, and to prove that hip-hop is not just negativity — that it can be used as a positive force."
Bucking current hip-hop trends, the lineup boasts three female headliners: young local singing sensation Kourtney Heart, former No Limit artist Mia X and 22-year-old Na'Tee, fresh from a Halloween gig in Slidell opening for Juvenile. In her off time, Na'Tee also helps Soundclash with community efforts and talks with young people as part of the New Orleans DA's Diversion Program. She shot and edited a video for the title cut of her fourth mixtape Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. It caught the attention of 50 Cent's G-Unit, which flew Na'Tee to Los Angeles to meet with her and set up interviews with The Source and other magazines. "I live Uptown right by Tipitina's and have always seen and heard how amazing these Hip-Hop for Hope shows have been," Na'Tee says. "I've always wanted to be a part of it."
Performers include the Soul Rebels Brass Band, former teacher and now full-time rapper Dee-1, Raw Dizzy, DJ Raj Smoove and many others. Cash Money Records legend Mannie Fresh will perform and DJ, as well as promoting The Show, the latest rapper signed to his new label, Chubby Boy Records. This is the first year all artists on the lineup have donated their performance fees.