DETROIT (AP) The hip-hop generation needs to educate itself and then head to the polls in this fall’s election.
That was one of the messages from speakers at the Hip-Hop Summit, which drew artists and behind-the-scenes members of the music industry on Saturday.
Rap mogul Russell Simmons, whose Hip-Hop Summit Action Network puts on the traveling event, said young people need to empower themselves to make a difference in their communities and the world.
“Those of us who work in the hip-hop industry know this is the best generation in the world,” Simmons told a crowd of music fans at the Fox Theatre. “And come November, they are going to see that this is the most powerful generation that the world has seen.”
Simmons said the power of hip hop comes from its ability to unite people of different races and religions.
“It’s very important that we flex these muscles in November,” he said.
Two panel discussions were held as part of the event. The first centered on the empowerment of young people and the Hip-Hop Team Vote effort.
As part of the effort, organizers hold voter registration drives at summit cities. It recently registered 50,000 voters in Los Angeles and 80,000 in Philadelphia. Midway through Saturday’s event, the group said it had signed up at least 70,000 Michigan voters including 40,000 in Detroit.
Run-DMC’s Joseph “the Rev. Run” Simmons said that young people especially those who want to make it in the music business need to work as hard as they can, even if that means volunteering or interning for free.
“Everything is about service,” he told the crowd. “When you serve, you get. You can’t get a blessing, you have to be a blessing.”
A second panel discussion that touched on the business side of hip hop featured Detroit-area rap star Eminem and some other members of the group D12.
When asked by a member of the enthusiastic crowd about how to not lose sight of the music when faced with business pressures, Eminem said the secret is to hire a trustworthy business manager.
“On the business side, I’m not ignorant. But I know that without the music there is no business,” Eminem said, “and that keeps me creative.”