OKP Exclusive: Organizers Of New Kendrick Lamar-Inspired Scholarship Speak On The Social Necessity Of Hip-Hop
Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" is well on its way to timeless status. With its brilliant, heart-rending video and newfound role as an anthem for those fed up with a nation still seething with racism, the hard-banging track sits in a sort of sacred space, blurring the lines between party and protest.
"Alright" is also the inspiration for a new scholarship program, started by Philadelphia's own OogeeWoogee. An outlet dedicated to hip-hop and all its cultural extremeties. As Philly.com reported, it was Lamar's visit to a high school classroom that was the decisive moment--what OW saw as an opportunity to reassert music as a force for tangible social construction. "We always wanted to create a hip-hop-inspired scholarship," Brutus told the blog. "'Alright' came at the right time and visit to the high school gave us a concrete idea of what we wanted."
"Kendrick's refreshing new style, complex album themes, poignant timing, current sociopolitical climate--there are a number of facotrs that have made his voice resonate so well in both the mainstream and streets," OogeeWoogee Content Director Wilkine Brutus told Okayplayer. "We also want to create a paradigm shift in the ways in which the mass media controls our narrative," Brutus said. "Our youth, more than ever, are smart enough to navigate the good and bad aspects of society--and creating this scholarship is our way of making a tangible impact and proving that hip-hop is self-sufficient."
Each "Be Alright" scholarship will total $1,500 and students hoping to be considered are currently tasked with submitting a short video explaining their relationship to hip-hop, and the ways in which they hope to explore their own artistic talents through higher education. The videos are posted to OogeeWoogee's Facebook page, and the clips with the most likes and shares wins.
"Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco, J.Cole, Dead Prez, Mick Jenkins, Immortal Technique, Nas, Rakim, just to name a few---I think these lyricists always tried to avoid the term 'conscious rapper' because it placed them in a nonsensical box," Brutus told OKP. "Truth is a dirty sink full with dishes and some artists are simply comfortable with pouring water and soap over it. Kendrick’s refreshing new style, complex album themes, poignant timing, current sociopolitical climate---there are a number of factors that have made his voice resonate so well in both the mainstream and streets."
When asked what he would say to Lamar, if he had the chance to sit down with him face-to-face, the OW director stressed that just as Ta-Nehisi Coates's writing challenges black American identity, and as the Black Lives Matter movement continues to pressure politicians, the MC and those like him play a crucial social, political and educational role. "We aren't just hearing [Kendrick's] music," Brutus said, "we are thoroughly listening to [his] concerns and we're taking action."