Right on the heels of SMACK/URL and Drake’s massive deal with Caffeine TV, politicians are taking note of the recent emergence of battle rap as a means to spread their message to constituents least likely to tune into their weekly updates through their press secretaries.
One elected official jumping on the wave is Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
Adams, the first African-American to hold the office of BP, has partnered the Hip Hop is Green (HHIG) organization to put on the first-ever Brooklyn Healthy Rap Battle where Brooklyn youth will compose original rhymes about health and wellness as well as the benefits of living a plant-based lifestyle.
Taking a page out of Forever First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2010 Let’s Move! campaign and a little bit from Dr. Oz and Doug E. Fresh’s initiative celebrated through the song “Everybody,” Adam is hoping the remixing his outreach with some a rap aesthetic will help shift eating habits for a community plagued with food deserts, Crown chicken spots, and cheap Chinese foods.
Called “food swamps,” Brooklyn houses the neighborhood most affected by food insecurity and poor affordable food choices.
Peep the math and why the Borough President is going all out to make sure that his healthy eating reaches folk most vulnerable in the community he serves.
Food swamps typically exist in food deserts. Food deserts are basically a fancy word for the hoods where there are no really clean, nice, affordable grocery stores and healthy food options.
In the past, people have pointed to food deserts as the reason why so many poor people in “ghettoes” are obese and unhealthy. But that’s only a fraction of the equation.
Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, living in areas that have a saturation of unhealthy and inexpensive food options is really what promotes outlandish obesity stats for Black and Brown people.
East New York alone in the 11207 zip code, according to an investigation by City Limits, has 27 fast-food chains (including seven Crown Fried Chicken’s, four McDonald’s and three Subways) and another 14 respectively in 11208.
Veganism while it seems like it cost more, really could be an alternative that changes the dynamics for Brooklyn.
Especially since, veganism is spreading in Black and Brown communities thanks to Hip-Hop artists like Wu-Tang, JAY-Z, Russell Simmons, and Dead Prez.
The Carters, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé made a deal with their fans that if they went vegan, the couple would give them free tickets to their shows.
Rapper and social entrepreneur Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, started an exclusively vegan food truck for the homeless; and A$AP Rocky on his recent single “Babushka Boi” talked about veganism.
Even Bronx internet star turned household name, Cardi B has started a vegan fashion line.
This is why Adams is moving forward… and using the culture to push this agenda.
According to a media alert from Adams’ office, this competition will expose young people to several variables: education and exposure to live foods, the art of emcee battle culture and a tournament style of competition pushing their pens to the unpack the wonders of vegetarianism.
“Hip-Hop is a language that has the power to communicate transformational messages, and few messages could be more powerful than taking control of our bodies and how we fuel them,” said Borough President Adams.
“HHIG is a great tag-team partner for this innovative rap battle competition that harnesses the best of hip-hop’s potential. I’m excited to see what our young rappers and scribes will come up with, and the minds they will inspire with their rhymes.”
“Recently, the popularity of plant-based foods has taken off nationwide, with new brands and products entering the market — even fast-food chains are offering plant-based menu selections through partnerships with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods,” said Keith Tucker, founder of HHIG.”
“It is anticipated that these trends will inspire many people to try plant-based foods. HHIG believes that merging hip-hop culture together with plant-based foods creates a synergy that will lead urban youth to get excited about adopting a plant-based lifestyle and encourage them to make their own health and wellness a top priority.”
“Borough President Adams has been on the forefront of bringing plant-based foods to young people and HHIG is proud to join forces with him and his team as we plan to introduce young people to plant-based food through this contest.
In preparation to compose the best rap song, youth will taste, study and learn about plant-based foods through HHIG’s health and wellness curriculum,” Tucker continued.
The Brooklyn Healthy Rap Battle is being held in partnership with the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), and sponsors include Good Catch, Miyoko’s Creamery, and Quorn.
The competition will take place from Monday, March 16th to Thursday, May 7th and will pop out in multiple locations throughout Kings County.
Youth, ages 12 to 18 who are eligible to participate in the Brooklyn Healthy Rap Battle, will submit videos on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtags #hiphopisgreen and #healthybrooklyn.
To enter the contest, and for more information about the Brooklyn Healthy Rap Battle, including contest rules and prize details, visit hiphopisgreen.com/brooklyn-healthy-rap-battle.
The winners will be determined by some of the industry’s top influencers in Hip-Hop, who live a plant-based lifestyle.
According to the organizers, all of the judges for the Brooklyn Healthy Rap Battle are well-known hip-hop artists affiliated with HHIG, including Styles P, who owns several juice bars in urban communities; New York’s own TK the Vegan Rapper; Stic of Dead Prez, who produced an album around getting fit, Sa Roc the MC, who has been vegan for over 15 years, and Supannova Slom, who has lived a vegan lifestyle since birth under the guidance of his mother, holistic wellness guru Queen Afua.
Doc G, leader of the NYC chapter of HHIG will facilitate the implementation of the program and contest.
Yeah… that’s good and dandy… but what do the battlers win once victorious?
ANY GREEN outside of the cabbage they will be rapping about? That is to be determined. The prizes will range from recording studio time to get one-on-one time with some of their favorite battle rappers.