I want to kick off the series hip hop meets poetry in a quest for peace with showing children and youth as victims with a slightly controversial topic: Hip hop.
What started out as a release of social grievances, frustration and anger, over the last decades to a big extent has turned into a lot of talk about bling, cars, girls and how those artists made it to the top. However, one can still find some songs that go below the surface and touch deeper issues, this type of hip hop is often referred to as conscious positive hip hop.
I would like to start with a song by Kanye West called Diamonds from Sierra Leone.
This video shows very well a number of things:
- The exploitation of children in diamond mines in some parts of Africa,
- The incredible circumstances and living situations these children are subdued to and
- The incredible ignorance with which some people buy and wear diamonds.
To have a critical song like this come from the hip hop community might be an incentive for those who listen to it to be more aware of conflict diamonds, also called blood diamonds. What I hope for is that this song inspires people to check whether the diamonds they buy come from conflict regions. Currently there is no official system of certification in place, however it is known which areas of Africa are conflict diamond free and which have blood diamond mines. So knowing what region of Africa your diamonds come from can already give you a clue as to whether you have blood diamonds or not. Furthermore, there are two main certificates, one is the Canadian Certificate and the other is the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme that sets out to surveil the entire process: from mining for diamonds up to their sale.
Conflict-free diamonds on the other hand are diamonds whose profits are not used to fund wars and which are produced and mined under ethical conditions.
Please, if you think about buying your girlfriend a diamond ring, make sure they are not blood diamonds.
People are being abused in the process of mining for those diamonds! And the most vulnerable among them are the children. They experience extreme forms of violence, sickness, amputations and in many cases death. These children do not have the chance to a peaceful life, they are being used just like tools or machinery and are being thrown away, killed when becoming useless.
Let me ask one question: How cool can you be if what you wear on your hand is a token of the death and suffering of others?
Here is the remix of the song, which goes into more detail on the realisation that what some consume and buy and wear and enjoy and in some cases identify themselves with hurts and kills others.
What do you think about the song? Do you think it is an effective way to raise awareness of conflict diamonds and the way kids are being exploited in the process of getting to those diamonds? Are people really listening to the lyrics or are the beats more important than the content?
Leave me some comments and let me know if you have other good examples of conscious hip hop.
Next week on the hip hop meets poetry in a quest for peace: Mike Ellis – Mezeker
Check back with me soon for more of the series.