UNC’s Student Hip-Hop Organization, SHHO, held a panel discussion at the Campus Y on Monday to address the art, platform and history of hip-hop and its impacts on social change and social justice.
“Hip-hop is a very large platform for artists, young and old, to share their voices and empower people who may be underrepresented in their communities,” said Nicho Stevens, SHHO executive member.
Panelists Dasan Ahanu, Jemal Abdulhadi, Kyesha Jennings, Stanley Sun and Kevin “Kaze” Thomas discussed past and present hip-hop culture – from Tupac and Biggie Smalls, to Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, to Lil Pump – from spoken word, to beat-boxing, to rap.
“There are so many different types of hip-hop,” SHHO member Sun said. “But what’s really an important string that connects all of them is the fact that people are able to use this platform as a voice when they would otherwise not have a voice.”
The panelists recognize hip-hop as more than a music genre — it is a culture, an avenue for social change and a catalyst for conversation that has been ever present in history for a long time. Although influential rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls are often credited with inspiring social commentary through hip-hop, Jennings claims the genre has always been rooted in activism and cultural discussion.