Russell Simmons, Def Jam, and the NAACP yesterday (Aug. 20) officially relaunched the Rap the Vote campaign as a strategic partnership between Rock the Vote and the NAACP. In preparation for the Nov.

Russell Simmons, Def Jam, and the NAACP yesterday (Aug. 20) officially relaunched the Rap the Vote campaign as a strategic partnership between Rock the Vote and the NAACP. In preparation for the Nov. 2002 elections, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and Rosie Perez have come on board to appear in public service announcements geared to mobilize rap and hip-hop fans to have their voices heard.

Organizers also announced a plan for Rap the Vote to sponsor voter education and registration activities nationwide targeting urban concert tours, college campuses and hip-hop empowerment rallies. Rap the Vote will especially seek to connect to people in areas where the hip-hop community is under-represented.

"The hip-hop generation will determine what politicians will be put in office, and who will stay in office," said Jeff Johnson, national director of the NAACP Youth & College Division.

On hand to make the announcement were Johnson, Simmons, who is co-chair of the Rap the Vote advisory board; Jehmu Greene, executive director of Rock the Vote; and Kevin Liles, president of Def Jam/Def Soul.

Liles noted, "Def Jam is not just a record company, we're a lifestyle company. We know how to get a kid to buy a CD, so why can't we get a kid to vote? ... Artists realize that if they mention a Cadillac grill in a song, then [car] sales go up a certain percentage. Now the artists realize it's another feather in their cap if they can make political change."