Mayor Ras Baraka and the City of Newark are celebrating Hip-Hop 50 by digging into the poet/politician’s in-depth relationship with the rap community. On an August episode of the “Ras 60” podcast, Baraka sat down with the Sugarhill Gang, rap music royalty and artists who cemented New Jersey as the birthplace of commercial rap music.
New Jersey is not just home to Sugarhill Gang but also Queen Latifah, Naughty By Nature, Redman, The Fugees (Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel) and many more. The podcast also features West Ward Council Member Duprè Kelly, also known as DOItAll from the Lords of the Underground. Kelly took his platform as a MC and transitioned it into being an elected official who serves the community from the bottom up.
Hakim Green, the co-founder (with Mayor Baraka) of the 24 Hrs of Peace initiative, appeared on the show as well. The anti-violence campaign brings out top artists to inspire the residents of Newark to aspire to a more drama-free lifestyle with peace as the motivating factor. Part of the initiative is to push the community to commit to a 24-hour cycle of nonviolence once a year—with the goal that this is adapted for 365 days a year.
Baraka is the son of poet laureate, Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones) and a close friend of L-Boogie—and is featured on the interludes of her legendary album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
If anyone is the Hip-Hop mayor, it is Baraka!