Conversation Of The Week LIII: National And International Hip-Hop Artist, Jasiri X, Seen As An Effective Force To Bring About Political And Social Change

April 8, 2013
Written by Abby L. Ferber Ph.D. Professor of Sociology in
National Collegiate Dialogue
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Jasiri X, a six-time Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Award winner, recently became the first Hip-Hop artist to receive the coveted August Wilson Center for African American Culture Fellowship. Photo Credit:

Each week, the White Privilege Conference and the Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion, housed at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS), hosts a half hour radio show called Intersections Radio that features an interview with a different author, scholar, and/or speaker.

This week’s segment is an interview with Emcee and community activist Jasiri X, who is the creative force and artist behind the ground breaking internet news series, This Week with Jasiri X, which has garnered critical acclaim, thousands of subscribers, and millions of internet views. From the controversial viral video What if the Tea Party was Black?, to the hard hitting truth of A Song for Trayvon, Jasiri X cleverly uses Hip-Hop to provide social commentary on a variety of issues. His videos have been featured on websites as diverse as and The Huffington Post, and Jasiri has been a guest on BET Rap City, The Michael Baisden Show, Free Speech TV, Left of Black, and Russia Today.

Jasiri X first burst on the National and International Hip-Hop scene with the powerful hit song, Free The Jena 6, which was played on more than 100 radio stations and was named Hip-hop Political Song of the Year. His debut album, American History X, was named Album of the Year at the Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Awards. A six-time Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Award winner, Jasiri recently became the first Hip-Hop artist to receive the coveted August Wilson Center for African American Culture Fellowship. A founding member of the anti-violence group One Hood, Jasiri started the New Media Academy to teach young African-American boys how to analyze and create media for themselves.

Jasiri has performed from New York City to Berlin, Germany and various cities in between, including recently in front of 30,000 at the Our Communities Our Jobs Rally in Los Angeles. He has toured colleges and universities across the country presenting his innovative workshop, How to Succeed in Hip-Hop Without Selling Your Soul, and is working on a book of the same name. He also blogs for Jack and Jill Politics,, and The Black Youth Project. Jasiri X signed a record deal with Wandering Worx Entertainment and is currently working on his album, Ascension with acclaimed producer Rel!g!on.

Intersections Radio is hosted by Dr. Eddie Moore Jr., founder of the White Privilege Conference (WPC), which is held annually in cities across the United States; and Daryl Miller, who works with the WPC and other programs of the Matrix Center. The WPC is an award-winning national diversity conference that serves as a yearly opportunity to examine and explore difficult issues related to white privilege, white supremacy, and oppression, and works to dismantle systems of power, prejudice, and inequality. College students from around the country participate in the conference for academic credit.

To hear the complete interview visit Intersections Radio by clicking this link

National Collegiate Dialogue


Art as an Avenue for Social Change

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-29 on

I am inspired by people who use different artistic avenues to dismantle systems of power, prejudice, and inequality in order to create awareness about present issues going on. Jasiri X is one such example that is inspiring because by his very intentional words in his lyrics he is able to invoke a response. He is able to reach populations that might not otherwise think about these issues. This is why I think artistic expression is important to dismantle oppression because it is a way to creatively and uniquely engage people about their beliefs and cause people to rethink the present structures of power, prejudice, and inequality. Education and empowerment can come in many different forms and I like how Jasiri X is able to engage young African-American boys how to analyze and create media for themselves. Overall, this was an inspiring article because it shows that directly confronting issues is an important aspect of dismantling oppression in order to combat color-blind racism that tries to avoid the topic.

I also think music is an

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-32 on

I also think music is an important avenue for promoting change. We can't stop artists from creating music with racist messages, but we can divert our attention elsewhere. Artists like this can really get into that young demographic and make them think about real world issues.

I'll admit that I have never

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-32 on

I'll admit that I have never heard of this artist, but this article has made me want to look him up. The work he is doing to put out music with positive messages reminds me of the rapper Macklemore. His song "Otherside" is a personal narrative that encourages young people to stay away from drugs and violence even though it is in all the music they hear. Even more powerful is his song "Same Love" which is talking about gay marriage and the homophobia in rap music. With his popular radio hit "Thrift Shop", he is rapidly gaining more fans that will listen to his other songs. Music is such a powerful weapon to reach the masses; I find it inspiring and encouraging that rappers with positive messages are rising to the top. Surely they will be able to at least make a dent in the opinions of the youth.

Agree - Music a powerful force

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-1 on

I agree with your comment about making a difference in the opinions of our youth. Music is a powerful force for young adults. As parents we can try to mold our young and educated them and as adults we have opportunities to learn in the realms of academia. But our youth are harder to talk to. Lyrics are some of the most listen to and learned forms of communication for youth today. Why not use that venue for good? Making them aware of privilege and oppression through music is a very creative and possibly very successful way to get through.

This is a great avenue for

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-16 on

This is a great avenue for promoting positive ideas because music is praised and heard by almost everyone. He is doing a great thing by using music in this fashion, especially since the type of music he creates has a lot of negative messages that it sends out normally.

Hip-Hop as an Avenue for Social Change

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-12 on

I must say I am quite intrigued and impressed by Jasiri X and plan to YouTube his work after reading this article. I, personally, love soul and hip-hop music, and appreciate the use of music as an opportunity to reach mass amounts of people towards peaceful measures.

I recently took two courses which also appealed to various forms of social justice: Film and Social Justice and Poetry and Social Justice. Both courses were enlightening as I had never though of film or poetry as avenues towards change. Now, after multiple courses, I truly view the arts and media as THE way forward.

I appreciate the efforts of artists like Jasiri X, and hope to see more people, in general, making statements towards a less racialized and prejuidicial world.

I Agree

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-29 on

I agree that Hip-Hop, poetry, and film are all really powerful avenues for social change. It is awesome that you took some classes exploring these subjects because I think it is important for us to look into history in order to see how art has had a significant impact in creating change. Maybe you can use your artistic talents to start paving a way for change?

The voice for oppression

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-33 on

I have always thought that the way to reach young people-or people in general-is through the mediums that speak directly to them. There is no message like the one that directly relatable-we know this in the ways we learn-we understand what we know and can assimilate. A message that is heard from a source like Jasiri X to youth either already involved in the situations he talks about or on the verge is going to resonate deeper than most others. Our children are at risk and we are severely lacking the mentorship and leadership to direct them-it would seem we are left with artists like Jasiri X to fill the gap. As much as I am glad to have expression through different forms of art and a venue to reach our youth-it just demonstrates how much our social systems are failing. Until every individual realizes that these issues are not just "their problems" but "our problems" we will be left with these artists holding the ball as the 'voice' for oppression and moreover giving them a plethora of material to use. Imagine if everyone donated just a bit of their time to a community or child in need how much of a difference that would make. It seems we have forgotten how to be an example for others-we have forgotten that the world encompasses more than our immediate existence.


Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-41 on

I completely agree with you that the best way to get a message across to kids is to make it relevant to them or associate it with the things they are familiar with. For many African American children, they do not have access to media via cable or internet so music is a great way to touch their lives and send important messages. We do need more positive mentors especially for boys in the Affrican American communities. All you need is a positive influence to make you positive.

A Great Way to Reach Out!

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-19 on

It is so cool to read about someone who is reaching out to people in a manner of the new age I guess I could put it. Our radio stations are filled with hip hop music that incourages kids to engage in sex, drugs, and other deviant activities. It glorifies crime and is polluting our youth. What Jasari X is doing is creating a healthy message and putting it out there the way kids listen to things now days. They can see that not all music is about "the street" but things that matter like equality and other racial issues. This in my opinion is the best way to reach out to our generation, it reminds me of a rap group called "The 5-0", which is two cops who rap to children about how to stop crime and living a healthy lifestyle that will get you places. Cuddos to Jasari X for getting the message out there and doing it with style!

Two Sides of One Story

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-6 on

I appreciate your inclusion of the opposition to the positive messages being suggested in this blog. It's difficult to cut a path through the clutter of hip hop that includes behaviors that are not conducive for society as a whole.

I'm not suggesting that everyone start rapping as a means of communicating good behavior to children. I heard enough of that in middle school with the "math rap" and such. I'm just thankful for the contributions of this artist and those that also make contributions.

Music is a universal language

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-36 on

Music is a great way to get a positive message across. I love what his group is doing to help young make positive music, or conscientious as I believe he said. I think it is sad that he was told it wasn't marketable. The idea that companies would rather promote the music that only continues the negative stereotypes is ridiculous to me, but not surprising by any means. The almighty dollar must prevail. I applaud him in his efforts and I truly hope he inspires many to do the same.

Hip Hop

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-41 on

I think utilizing hip-hop music as a means of addressing and promoting political issues is an ingenious idea. Jasiri X is encouraging political participation in African American communities throughout the United States with his music and commentary. The hip-hop industry tends to be viewed by whites as nefarious due to the constant referrences to crime, drug use and demeaning lyrics aimed at women. Jasiri X is using hip-hop to educate aspiring rappers on the negativity associated with the music/rap industry while still being successful. I think it is important for more young African American men to step up and be positive mentors in their communities.


Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-20 on

Its nice to see an "celebrity" using their influence to further our society, in America. You always hear about stars going to other countries, you know who they are. We have racism, bigotry and hate in the U.S. Its refreshing to see a young person who can better relate to the generation that can make a difference. It also helps his commentary is not preachy and easy to listen too.

I think this is an innovative

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-8 on

I think this is an innovative approach to raising awareness of political and social issues. Hip-hop, and all of pop culture, is the medium constantly used to infiltrate the minds of youth with socially constructed ideology, so it is refreshing to see this same method be used to deconstruct some of that ideology and promote healthier messages.

It is very inspiring to see a

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-19 on

It is very inspiring to see a hip-hop artist doing such work on political and social issues. With his lyrics, he is educating the youth the reality of oppression and privilege, something resembling a college course, but not as expensive. With catchy melodies and good rapping skills he may be attractive to many listeners. I think this is great especially for the younger people and those who are uneducated about social and political issues in general. Hip-hop world needs more artists like Jasiri X to communicate such messages to our society. It is a great idea for future artists.

Great to see Hip Hop as a Political force

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-4 on

I am glad when I see articles about hip-hop artists helping to create social change. Jasiri X is an inspiration and is providing good social commentary about the nature of politics in the world. His, is an important voice in the same way as other hip-hop legends like Immortal Technique, Public Enemy and others. Bravo to Jasiri X and keep up the good work!

Powerful Innovations

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-6 on

So, what do you like to do? I'm pretty sure that most people that have responded to this question included music in their answer. I'll admit that I'm not a fan of hip hop, but I like anything with a good message that elicits emotion which, to me, is what this artist intends to do. As other posters have mentioned, some of his music selections are tied to a specific global issue like gay rights or drug abuse.

This successful artist has really discovered an outlet for change that will inspire children everywhere, for children are the future (corny, I know). Now we just need to continuously strive to reach people through other popular outlets of communication. For instance, as yet another fellow poster suggested, poetry. Now, poetry is not as popular with the youngsters, but older generations could probably appreciate the simplicity and power of a well written poem. I've heard artists describe their music (I think it was a rap artist) as poetry.

If important public figures, artists, etc., continue to follow the example set forth by this man and many other greater citizens, I can see some real change in our society.

Jasiri X is a great example

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-28 on

Jasiri X is a great example for showing that black culture is not only for blacks anymore. Hip-hop music is one example of significant black culture. However, it is not weird that other races enjoy hip-hop music, and even many black hip-hop musicians can be stars/role-models for other races. We have several white hip-hop musicians now, and later hip-hop might become part of American culture which embraces all other races. Hopefully, other areas that are viewed with black and white have similar movements like this article, so people are less cynical about other races.

I agree, music is for

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-28 on

I agree, music is for everyone. It all depends on what you like. Many of the hip hop artists now are promoting positive messages through their lyrics. Im very interested to see where this goes. Snoop Dog just changed his entire persona from hardcore gangster to a peace loving rasta. It really shows how people can change.

I don't want to say this

Submitted by UCCS-S2013-3 on

I don't want to say this without sounds negative because I mean everything to be positive, but this artist gives hope to the Hip Hop genre. What you hear most of the time from this musical genre is all about bitches and hoes, but this man is making a stand against the stereotypical Hip Hop-er. He wants to influence young men to make their own inspiring and positive message Hip Hop songs, instead of the classic music that is degrading towards woman. And I also think it's great that UCCS got an interview with this individual!~Much needed!

Hip-Hop has always been political...

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-9 on

I think this is a great example of what could and what can be inspiration through music. However, I do not think this is the first time this has happened nor will it be the last. Hip-hop artists have been political since the beginning of rap. Artists like Q-TIp, KRS One and Rakim have been very influential in making songs to express political feelings. I think the problem with political figures and political ideas being associated with Hip-Hop is that the people who don't like Hip-Hop won't listen. The music has to be heard in order to be understood and I think there are a lot of artists in the last 10 years who don't have anything credible to say, but they know how to sell records. If the goal is to make money, then who cares what is in the lyrics, but if the goal is to spread a message the dynamic of the music completely changes. I think that Jasiri X is someone who wants to spread a message. A lot of of other people associated with Hip-Hop just want to be famous and make money. The artists who have a purpose for making music may not be heard as often, but they are there.

I think with our generation

Submitted by UCCSWEST-S2013-28 on

I think with our generation music is a great channel to send positive messages. The music scene today is huge and more and more hip hop artists are sending positive messages. This is one way in which I think a positive message will be heard by millions. Although I have never herd this artists music or videos on youtube I know they are out there. This is one of many ways in which we can minimize oppression in our society.