*DJ Kool Herc is credited as being one of the creators of hip-hop. His motivation was to aid, support, and uplift the people.
The water crisis of Flint, MI has physically and emotionally effected its residents. Their poisoned water supply is but another unwelcomed predicament for a community rife with social and economic challenges. Activist and author YoNasDa Lonewolf was compelled to assist the people of Flint, and she knew it would take a unified community to save a community. So she enlisted the aid of hip-hop.
Hip-Hop 4 Flint, a global fundraiser led by YoNasDa, happened March 19, 2016. Hip-hop artists gathered together at various venues in 52 cities around the globe, each joined the initiative in solidarity and support for the people of Flint. Their collective goal: raise funds to purchase water filters for the city’s residence.
EURweb witnessed the impassioned excitement of Hip Hop 4 Flint at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, MI. With a star-studded line-up that included Ozay Moore, Sareem Poems, DJ J-Beez, Finale, Hassan Mackey, The Great Ones, Suport, Manchild, Skin Kwon Doe, Mike G and One.Be.Lo, the west Michigan branch of the fundraiser was an unforgettable spectacle of beats, rhymes and life.
Hip-Hop 4 Flint: Grand Rapids closed with a performance by critically-acclaimed industry favorites Bronze Nazareth and June Mega, both members of Wu-Tang Clan affiliate, The Wisemen. “Everybody came out to support because we’re doing this for something much bigger than us,” Mega said to EURweb following the event. “We were showing that love is out here for the people Flint. Flint lives matter! It’s bull that [Governor] Snyder is doing what he’s doing.”
On having the honor of closing the show, Mega said, “Everybody who touched the stage did it with love and to show support, and it was one-hundred. The legends closed the show because we’re going to drop those jewels that people need to know. We have to give them that food for thought.”
Earlier in the evening The Great Ones – Lady Ace Boogie and JROB dished out a serving of their own, getting the audience jumping with their smash hit “Do It 4 the Love”. Lady Ace told EURweb Hip-Hop 4 Flint was a powerful night. “The positive energy was infectious,” said the 3-time WYCE Jammie Award winner. “All the elements of hip-hop came together for a community in need. I predict that the momentum will be used as a force for real positive change.”
The night’s music was handled, and mixed seamlessly, by the duo of DJ Omega Supreme and DJ Ill One. Along with assisting the packed ticket of artists, they played a variety of tunes to keep the audience energy and emotions peaked. At one point they appropriately spun “New World Water” by Mos Def. Taken from his 1999 solo debut album Black on Both Sides, the song deals with the contamination and conservation of our water supply.
June Mega noted the history of messages in hip-hop music, and called the Flint water crisis the calm before the storm. “Everybody’s not really paying attention,” he said. “It takes more than just 1, it takes more than just 50; we have to come together as a community all across the country, and we have to make moves. If we don’t…this is what happens. We’ll be out here struggling, living like this day to day. It’s time for a change, and we have to be part of the frontline. The revolution is here!”
Matthew “DJ Choppy Blades” Duncan was the lead organizer of the Hip-Hop 4 Flint: Grand Rapids. Also President of the Grand Zulus – Universal Zulu Nation, his involvement with YoNasDa’s global revolution helped raise more than $5000 for Flint on the frontline in West Michigan. Duncan said to EURweb, “When we come together for the purpose of giving a voice to those whose voice has been suppressed or taken from them, when we give back to our communities, and when we creatively and artistically express ourselves to make a point, we are living hip-hop. We are hip-hop.”
The Flint water crisis is not the only issue Michigan is facing. Seven of its cities – Battle Creek, Jackson, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Flint, and Detroit – are ranked among the 100 Most Dangerous Cities according to tracker Neighborhood Scout’s 2016 data, three of them are in the Top 10.
While violent crimes are lower in Grand Rapids, west Michigan as a whole has experienced an alarming increase. Bronze, a resident of Detroit, was born in Grand Rapids. Mega, a native of Detroit, now lives in Grand Rapids. He called the number of lives being lost sad and disgusting. “These days you could be killed just for bumping into somebody,” Mega said. “We’ve got to break the cycle of how we think and how we move out here! Change the way we are towards one another.
“As a brother,” Mega continues, “I’m supposed to respect you. I’m supposed to pull you up, not push you down! It’s about us as a unit. The mechanisms that make the machine work, all have to work together. If they don’t work together the machine breaks down.”
Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, Mr. Joe Walker is a biographer, journalist, and columnist, currently a senior writer for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and writer for Concrete Magazine’s Concrete615.com. Also managing editor of Liquid Arts & Entertainment Magazine, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. Like him on Facebook, follow on Twitter @mrjoewalker, and visit his official blog.
Performers on the show (all photos by D Sims):