"1-2-3, you need to think about the future/Before I shoot your ass and dilute your blood with lead..."
–Outkast, "Ain’t No Thang"
Violent lyrics are nothing new on the rap scene, but with a 38 percent increase in homicides this year in Chicago, many community youth groups believe it's time that hip-hop put forward a different message.
The Black Youth Project (BYP) and Power of Purchase, Inc. (POP) are coming together to provide a platform for artists to use hip-hop as a tool rather than a weapon in a community initiative they call "The Pledge Mixtape."
Executive produced by Grammy-Award winning Chicago artist Rhymefest, "The Pledge Mixtape" will be a 13 song compilation of well-known local artists touching on issues faced by youth in their communities and empowering them to take action.
"Music didn't destroy the community but it can help rebuild it," Rhymefest told the Black Youth Project. "We believe this is an important step towards empowering young people to use their collective voices as an agent of change."
Mikkey Halsted, Kaye Fox and Tito Lopez have all joined Rhymefest as collaborators on the project and local musicians still have the chance to contribute with submissions being taken until July 27.
5,000 copies of the mixtape will be pressed and distributed around the city at the same time that the BYP launches The Pledge campaign, a call to action against the inequality and injustice faced by black youth. The campaign calls for both individuals and organizations to make a commitment to ensure a bright future for black youth.