The Feast, a Black think-tank in Louisville that aims to bring Black individuals together over bi-weekly dinners to discuss Black business incubation and ways to overcome institutionalized racism, has launched a positive hip-hop radio station.
The station will play rap music that portrays the Black community in a positive light and highlight its fight against injustice, systematic racism and oppression versus the modern and popularized themes of money, sex, drugs and crime that are played out in mainstream hip-hop.
In a city that saw a record number of 173 criminal homicides in 2020, Jibriyll Izsrael, co-founder of the Feast, community organizer and author of “Ali 400: The Blueprint to Saving the World with Positive Hip Hop One Community at a Time,” said he believes negative rap lyrics that glorify crime, money, drugs and sex have had an impact on how people — more specifically young Black teens — carry themselves and form an identity.
“Mainstream hip-hop produces the biggest mainstream icons,” he said. “So, it’s common sense the level of influence and the ability of these artists to inadvertently lead and influence our youth in such a way that is detrimental to their progress — our progress as people.
“What you fixate your eyes and ears on, that’s what you’re going to become,” he continued.
The station will be broadcasted online to start at ali400radio.com, as the organizers of the Feast work on acquiring the proper broadcasting licenses to be able to broadcast copyrighted music legally over the air on radio stations.
Izsrael said the group has the funds to do so and expects to acquire the licenses by mid-May. Additionally, Izsrael and the think-tank hope to form a partnership with WLOU-AM to give them a larger platform and the ability to spotlight local hip-hop artists that preach positivity and change in their community.
One of those artists is Chris Williams, formerly known by his stage name “Felony.” Williams, who now goes by “Chris Will,” said he once was a part of the crowd of rappers preaching and glorifying the pursuit of negative things, citing his stage name as a prime example, he said.
“It dawned on me one day when my dad was preaching about speaking stuff into existence,” said Williams, the son of a pastor, “and he talked to me after church one day and said that every time someone calls you (Felony) or you say it to yourself, that’s what you are speaking into existence.”
That encounter with his father changed his approach to his music and now he wants the community to breathe in the life positive hip-hop has to give.
Dre Dawson, a local artist known as DreDaSon who will also be featured on the station, said he believes in the power of art to change the community but sees the term “positive hip-hop” as a loaded one.
“Even positive people aren’t always positive,” Dawson said, but the true issue with today’s mainstream hip-hop is that it lacks purpose, he said — it lacks the will to endorse positive change.
“Because of what we are going through in this country… we have to be a little more conscious of what we’re feeding people,” Dawson said. “Because art leads the consciousness of people in this country.”
Anything outside of that is “selling out” for money and fame knowing your people will be hurt by the negative things your music preaches and represents, Dawson said.
But there is hope, Izsrael believes, and that starts with fighting negative glorifications in mainstream hip-hop with rap that promotes positivity, unity and the advancement of Black life.
In addition to broadcasting music, Izsrael has plans for the platform to host podcasts, market Black businesses and report news that follows day-to-day happenings in the Black community and the most pressing issues the community faces.
The Feast has been partnering with Chef Space and Community Ventures, both at 1812 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., to host its bi-weekly dinner events and expects to further this partnership. The think-tank presented a business plan to Community Ventures on Tuesday for a loan to secure the finances needed to “scale the radio station up to what it needs to be,” Izsrael said.
The plan includes a mobile version of the station that will have video capabilities, serve food from the chefs that contribute to the Feast, and have positive hip-hop block parties wherever the truck goes. The music must be taken to the people, Izsrael said.
“We want it to be the type of radio station that puts out nothing but positive vibes,” Izsrael said, and “…provides a conduit for positive sociopolitical change.”
Source: Courier Journal