Nas, members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Run-D.M.C.’s Reverend Run, and Fat Joe are among the hip-hop artists who will appear at the first Hip-Hop Youth Summit, to be held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 21) at the York College Auditorium in Queens, N.Y. In addition to celebrating the legacy of Dr. King, the event will introduce a host of initiatives under the guise of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, founded by label mogul Russell Simmons.
Among them are a youth membership drive, with aims to establish youth chapters throughout the country; the Game Over anti-drug campaign, featuring public service announcements from top rappers and perks such as concert tickets and CD for students who engage in drug-free lives; the Read To Succeed project, which will bring hip-hop artists to schools to stress the importance of reading; and an essay contest with the topic “How Hip Hop Can Help Fulfill the Dream of Dr. King.” Winners will receive prizes including cash, clothing, and concert tickets.
New York State Sen. Malcolm Smith, activist Sister Souljah, and Source Magazine CEO David Mays are also confirmed to appear at the event. “It’s time for our youth to prepare for the leadership roles that will help make America safe, strong and productive,” Smith said in a statement. “As responsible adults we must creatively use hip-hop as a vehicle to provide the education and training to accomplish that task.”
The first Hip-Hop Summit was held last June in New York. Nation Of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan gave the keynote address, in which he defended rappers who use foul language and graphically depict violence and sexuality, but also urged them to recognize the influence they have over fans and asked them to raise the level of their discourse.