Tag Archives: activism

New Mixtape, Covering The Opioid Crisis, Police Brutality And More, Hits Hard

Japanese-American MC Kensho Kuma is more than a rapper. He is a teacher, NGO board member, organiser and an activist. His latest project is a mix tape where on some of the songs he covers current issues (of the U.S.) such as the brutality that the police have forced on its citizens, the opioid crisis, the education system and more. The tape is mixed by veteran DJ Kevvy Kev.

The mix tape showcases Kensho’s skills as a lyricist as he goes off dropping rhythmic bars left and right. There is an old school feeling to his flow as he throws down rhymes over the occasional scratching beats. A unique flavor to Kensho’s rap is his bilingual use of English and Japanese – a truly fascinating touch to the music.

Via email Kensho told Shouts about his projects outside of his music. He serves on the Board of Directors for Bay Area NGO Hip Hop 4 Change. The project “provides self-determination for local hip hop culture, and provides another form of representation for hip hop culture that is not given to us by the hip hop industry. We are dedicated to fighting socioeconomic inequalities through the implementation of Hip Hop culture. We do this through our three pillars, which are the grassroots campaigning team, educational outreach with a hip hop curriculum, and events, which highlight local artists.

Our grassroots officers were known for canvassing all over the Bay Area before the pandemic struck. Our educational outreach team has taught 22,000 students in grades K-12  thus far; our classes focus on not only the 4 elements of Hip Hop culture, but the history of it as well. Our local showcase series books local artists, as well as well-known legends like Talib Kweli and KRS One. Furthermore, we have recently received a grant to create an in-house studio which will be free for artists under 24. HH4C also recently received the Ellen Magnin Newman award for Outstanding Arts Organization from the SF Symphony, and the Award for Social Change from the Zellerbach Family Foundation.

I am also a Director of Return of the Cypher event in San Francisco. ROTC is an weekly open-mic jam session which occurred every Sunday night at the Boom Boom Room in the SF Fillmore district; MC’s, vocalists, and instrumentalists rocked with our in-house band. We started back in 2013, and with an exception of several Sundays, we have never missed a show. Many supporters consider ROTC to be “where Hip Hop culture resides in the SF Bay Area.”

In addition to featuring a  traditional dance party segment with DJ Kevvy Kev, ROTC has had weekly featured performers who came from around the world, freestyle competitions and producer showcases. Hip Hop legends, including the RZA, Large Professor, and Lyrics Born have made appearances on our stage as well. ROTC has also done charity work for the community, such as holiday and Christmas toy drives, working closely with Hip Hop For Change. Although we have been closed since February due to the pandemic, we cannot wait to continue the event when we are able to.

Furthermore, my daytime career has always been teaching. The vast majority of my experience took place in marginalized POC communities, so I am naturally more aware of the conditions in these urban communities.”

Kensho Kuma (photo provided by the artist)

Although Kensho does all this community work he does not see himself as a protest musician: “I do not consider myself to be a political MC or an activist. I just feel that the current sociopolitical climate demands that adults with morals raised by Hip Hop culture vocalise what is going on. In other words, we must voice certain controversial topics right now, because we are products of this culture.”

Check out more of Kensho’s work via his webpage, kenshokuma.com.

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Song Of The Day: I Believe We Will Win By Valerie Orth (Video)

Images of protests from literally around the whole world fill the screen in the new lyric video for I Believe We Will Win by Valerie Orth. People can be seen protesting the murder of Marielle Franco in Brazil, protesting Chinese authoritarian government officials in Hong Kong and teachers protesting the lack of empathy from law makers in the Unites States.

Besides the music, Valerie is an educator and an activist who co-leads Beats By Girlz as well as producing the League Of Badass Women podcast. According to an article from 2010 Valerie’s background was in activism before music: “She campaigned for a women’s studies department at Tufts, organized singer-songwriter benefits, and attended rallies for fair trade and environmental justice. After graduating, Orth took a job with Green Core, then moved to San Francisco and became a labor organizer for Global Exchange. She challenged corporate behemoths like Proctor & Gamble, joined the fight for fair-trade coffee, and traveled to China to consolidate worker support. She led the effort to pass San Francisco’s anti-sweatshop law in 2005.”

For this song Valerie gathered 30 artists and activists to help chant the words “I belive we will win” in 15 languages. I Believe We Will Win is part of Valerie’s upcoming album Rabbit Hole which will be released on December 4th, 2020.

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This Week’s Online Events: Female Vocalists In Iran And Music And Protest

This Thursday, 12th of November, there are two online events that possibly can interest Shouts’ readers. The first event is a talk given by Nahid Siamdoust, as part of her fellowship at Harvard’s Women’s Studies in Religion Program. She will talk about “the ban on women’s solo vocals in Iran.”

“Her research project, “Women Singing: The Regulation of Solo Female Vocals in Iran’s Hypermediated Public Sphere,” investigates whether processes occurring in Iran’s hypermediated public sphere can drive the Islamic Republic to redefine its rulings.”

This event starts at 3:00 pm EST (8:00 pm GMT). This event is supposed to last 1 hour.

Register here: https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_i0Iurp5WQJmv9PUIhQaP_w

Musicians On The Frontlines is a series of panel discussions, community events and concerts and this Thursday the organisers will be joined by interesting musicians from different parts of the globe:

“Allan Ballinger and Kenneth Long will be joined by Aaron Jaffaris and Byron Au Yong, creators of the Activist Songbook, and Ameen Mokdad, musician activist in Baghdad, Iraq. Together they will discuss music and protest. ​Read about the Activist Songbook here. Read about the work of Ameen Mokdad here.

This event starts at 4:00 pm EST (9:00 pm GMT).

Register here: https://www.cuatropuntos.org/musicpolitics2020panel.html

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