The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday June 2nd

SHHO shows how hip-hop drives social change

The Student Hip-Hop Organization celebrates the art and the history of hip-hop. Photo courtesy of Alex Zietlow.
Buy Photos The Student Hip-Hop Organization celebrates the art and the history of hip-hop. Photo courtesy of Alex Zietlow.

Hip-hop transcends all barriers, and the Student Hip-Hop Organization (SHHO) wants to make that clear to the student body as it focuses on the creation and appreciation of hip-hop. 

Many of its members make music themselves, which gives them the opportunity to collaborate and work together, but the organization — formed last year — is by no means limited to rappers and producers. They have graphic design roles for those interested in art and budget positions for business-minded members, while many simply enjoy listening to the music and discussing its effect on our culture.

Every other week, the club has a general body meeting to discuss recent music or talk about the state of hip-hop, member Donald Cayton said. 

To give an idea of what they talk about, last week the group got together and asked this question: Should rappers be held accountable for their lyrics? 

“They rap about drugs and sex and violence," said Nicho Stevens, an executive member. "Are they responsible for the effect it has on kids, or is it just free speech?” 

The answers to these kinds of questions vary, but it’s important for them to be asked nonetheless. The members of SHHO take the time to debate these issues because they recognize what a profound effect hip-hop has on our society.

SHHO also has other events, like listening parties when new music comes out or Wild Wednesdays from 12-1 p.m. in the quad.

“We listen to music, maybe get some food, and forget about the stress from the day,” Danny Cullum, another executive member, said. 

The club is also hosting their biggest event of the year, 919 Fest, on Nov. 3 at the Bell Tower Amphitheater to showcase local talent of all kinds from the University, along with possibly some more well-known acts.

The members of SHHO recognize that hip-hop is more than just a musical genre — it’s a culture that has successfully permeated our society from the underground to the mainstream and has the potential to break down racial barriers in its path. 

Members of all races can identify with the music, because it reflects the unique style and tone of its creator. 

“Hip-hop has always been about the freedom to create what you want," Stevens said. "There’s no bounds.” 

Few modes of expression are this liberating. Poetry comes to mind as another, but what is rap if not poetry put to music?

The hip-hop culture has grown to encompass such a diverse following that it can now bridge racial and social divides that have been in place for generations. Much like the outbreak of jazz and blues in the '20s, rap gives a voice to many that would otherwise go unheard.

This in itself is a form of social progress and deserves discussion and celebration, which is exactly what SHHO strives to do.


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