Before Kendrick Lamar, Drake, or Nicki Minaj, there was DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash.
These are just a few of the pioneers highlighted in the Hip Hop Youth Empowerment Workshop at the North Avenue Library in Richmond.
Kerwyn Phillip has been leading these sessions around the city about seven months.
"This whole movement that we see today that dominates the music industry was actually started by teenagers. So, what better way to help motivate teenagers today than by showing them how in the past, teenagers have created this culture that they listen to today," said Phillip.
It is a culture that has changed a bit since the 1970s.
Cameron Drewery and Jordan Wilkins enjoy listening to hip-hop. While looking at some of the slides during the workshop, the 11-year-olds notice today's artists are flashier, and more graphic in their lyrics.
"That's why I get the clean version of every song," said Wilkins.
However, for every not-so-clean message, they hear positive ones.
"I kind of like Ciara because she would like teach me to be myself and stuff like that. Nicki Minaj, same thing," said Drewery.
That is the same message Phillip hopes all of the students take away from this workshop.
Hip hop began as an outlet for young people who did not have a voice. Today, Phillip encourages the young people in his workshop to use theirs to the fullest.
"I hope that they feel empowered and motivated to see that whatever dreams and visions that they have, that if they remain steadfast to them and nurture them, that it's no telling what it can become," said Phillip.
The next Hip Hop Empowerment Workshop will be held at the Main Library in Richmond on Wednesday, August 28 at 3:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend.
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