Using hip-hop to spread hope

Neo Bodumela

MULTI-TALENTED Nelson Mandela Bay hip-hop artist Rushay Booysen is keen to spread the message that music can have a positive influence on the youth and community.

This after his four-week “hip-hop and civic engagement tour” of the US.

Booysen was nominated by the US Embassy to take part in the initiative as part of the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Programme.

“The hip-hop civic engagement looked at using hip-hop as an art form, to engage with the youth. If you look at the influence that hip-hop has on the youth globally and also over the 20 years that I have been involved in hip-hop, we see how the genre can spread influences over young people,” he said.

“If you look at revolutions that have happened across the world, they have been spearheaded by the youth, so I think that the governments or people are starting to see the importance of the youth in the world.”

Booysen was part of a group of 20 musicians from across Africa who participated in the US tour. During the tour, the group shared practices with their American counterparts and engaged with them on various topics within the music business.

He said the tour also included an extensive look into the business of music and how artists could grow their brands.

“We looked at the business side of music and we also met a producer who has worked with [hip-hop artist] 50 Cent, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears. Using social media as a tool for artists was one of the popular subjects during the tour as well. We also went to colleges that offer hip-hop as a course,” he said.

“We were a unique group of artists from Africa and it was a very beautiful experience. It connected us in a way that I feel was missing, because we all share the same common issues and problems as artists.”

Booysen said although there were negative issues attached to hip-hop, it could be used for the good.

“There are a number of negatives attached to hip-hop, but there are also a lot of positives and for the most part, people have largely been exposed to it as an entertainment tool only,” he said.

“With the right tools you can be anywhere you want to be through music and we need to spread that message.”

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