On Friday, May 12, “socially-conscious rapper” Khafre Jay visited PHS through club Voice Cooperative, sharing both his personal story and the story of his non-profit, Hip Hop for Change.
Born and raised in Hunter’s Point, San Francisco, Jay explained his personal battle in success and defying the odds, especially while living in such an economically disadvantaged part of San Francisco.
“I have a unique story,” Jay said. “Growing up, I went through a lot of different types of education, and a lot of different types of communities. I dealt with a lot of pressures that brown kids face, and I like to tie that into hip hop culture.”
Jay said that hip hop is a good medium for people to express their life experiences.
“Hearing different points of view [from Jay] is not an attack,” said VoCo co-president, junior Genevieve Raushenbush. “But helps lead to confrontations within one’s self that can help you choose what culture you want to cultivate.”
According to hiphopforchange.org, the mainstream music industry sells songs dealing with sexism, drug abuse, homophobia, materialism, and gang violence, and making it out to be as if these represent hip hop culture.
Jay discussed social justice and racism, and how teenagers, can change the way they think about these topics, simply by changing what songs they listen to.
“He was so eloquent in sharing his opinion, and explained many concepts about race very well,” junior Kay Sibal said.
Junior Ellie Coleman said that Jay made insightful comments about liberal racism compared to southern racism.
“We advocate social justice through hip hop,” Jay said. “What that looks like is about 55,000 conversations per year, going through neighborhoods, talking about race, and the cooptation of hip hop.”
Hip Hop for Change has made tremendous efforts in their movement, including teaching over 4,600 students the history of hip hop, rap and graffiti. They also have a radio show Sundays on KPOO, playing local music and putting hip hop shows together.
“We take those funds back into our communities,” Jay said. “Kind of like the Robin Hood theory.”
Jay hopes to continue sharing his vision with students and adults across the country, using hip hop as a positive tool for change and cultural exchange.
“Especially in the light of recent events at PHS, I felt that Jay reaffirmed a vision of Piedmont that many students hope to partake in and protect,” Raushenbush said. “One of tolerance and thoughtful, genuine action.”
Jay encourages students to keep following the non-profit, and to continue discussions that widen people’s understanding.
“Stick with [Hip Hop for Change], we are building a really great movement,” Jay said.