Hip Hop as a Culture


April 6, 2015  Divine Love Talk

Host: Dr. Parthenia Grant

Co-host: Kim Michaels

Guests: Part 1: Dr. Niama T. Malachi, author of A Hip Hop State of Mind

Part 2: Diane Bacchus-Quddus and Ashwin Srisailam, developers of Ahhaa app.

Topics: Ordinary people creatively engaging society. Hip hop reaching young people. Positive potential to create changes in society. The Ahhaa social media app.

Parthenia:Alright, I'm delighted to be here today, talking about how music, hip hop music, in particular, and a new social media ap are incredible vehicles for positive social change. … So, in studio today, I have Dr. Niama Malachi, author of A Hip Hop State of Mind. And that was your dissertation, correct?

Niama:It was my dissertation, yes. It was my dissertation that wound up taking on a life of its own. And it took me through a very transformational journey through hip hop, where I actually got to see hip hop as a culture. And I wound up turning that into a book for everyone else to see hip hop as a culture, as well.

Parthenia:And I'm glad that you did, because it definitely reframes it by giving us the history of it. And I have also joining me, my co-host, Kim Michaels. Kim, you're my expert on spirituality and the ego. And I know there's a lot of ego in hip hop (Niama laughs.) and in music, in general.

Kim Michaels:Right.

Parthenia:But, I'd like for you to just open up with a statement about the importance of us being vehicles for positive social change.

Kim Michaels:Well, I think that's the only way it's going to happen is that ordinary people do it. We have a tendency to wait for the experts and the leaders. And they're the ones who brought the world to where it is today. So, I think it's time for people to really step in, in all kinds of ways.

(Parthenia and Namia discuss some of the positive changes with some of the artists in hip hop.)

Namia:...And then, Drake, a younger artist … He started Houston weekend. … And in order for people to go to his concert in Houston, they had to volunteer.

Parthenia:What do you mean?

Namia:Community service.

Parthenia:Oh, my goodness. Amazing.

Namia:Yes. So, they're are a lot of really amazing things going on in hip hop. Just underground hip hop, there's this group called the Flintstone Kids.

Parthenia:Yeah, who are they?

Namia:They're from Toledo, Ohio and they're a group of young kids who actually make positive hip hop music. … So, they turn songs that are not so positive into positive ones. ...

Parthenia:So, Kim, do you see that as a sign that we are starting to waking up? Because music has the power to pull us down or to raise us up. So, what are your thoughts?

Kim Michaels:I agree with you. Music is very, very powerful. And I think there's a lot of things going on today among young people, where maybe I can't understand it and I freely admit that; but I see that there's a lot of young people that are very engaged in society and really want to create some positive change. And I think it doesn't matter to me whether they do it through this or that form of music, or in other ways.

Parthenia:Oh, and I agree. The important thing is that they see that there's a need in the world for them to add positive value and they're doing it. And it's creative. Kim, you talk about the importance of us being creative.

Kim Michaels:Yes, that's very true. And there's no limit to creativity. You can't really sit here and judge it based on what we've done before. I mean, that's the mistake we always make. And I think you look back at history and so many times a society has failed to see the new idea and the new trend that really brings change.

(Parthenia and Namia discuss the beginnings of hip hop, the culture that has developed and the lifestyle.)

Parthenia:And, as you and I talked about, anytime something – there's the potential for a lot of money, corporate America, the power elite, they're gonna come in there and find a way to corrupt it and exploit it.


Parthenia:And, Kim, I'd like for you to say something about that.

Kim Michaels:I think music is a good example of exactly what you are saying. The power elite always takes over. And then, it's about money and profit. And not about creativity. And I think it almost happens to any new thing that comes in. That once it gets big enough, then the money comes in. And then, the creativity goes out the back door.

Parthenia:And now we're coming back to that creative aspect of it.

(Parthenia and Namia discuss freedom of speech and censorship and various artists' experiences.)

Parthenia:... The censorship is there to take sides and to limit positive talk. It's kind of amazing how you have these machines that just bash, bash, bash on a big level.


Parthenia:On the conservative side. But when you start to say positive things, there's shutting of the voice.

Namia:Right. Another person, who is really strong at that is Kanye West

Parthenia:Oh, yeah! He would not care.

Namia:I know! The good thing about that. Recently, he did have an interview and he discussed bringing his music back more so towards the Jesus Walks type of music.

Parthenia:Oh, good.

Namia:He did. He said that he's moving back in that direction. And he said that his last album, before the one he's coming out with, was really a revolution. … Jesus Walks was actually one of his first songs on the radio. It was a huge song. And it was all about him being a Christian and how Jesus has improved his life. And the wonderment about it is that it was a song about Jesus that was multi-platinum.

Parthenia:Oh, my goodness.


Parthenia:Wait a minute. Kim, what do you think about that?

Kim Michaels:Well, I think that's a great idea. I'm sure Jesus would like that. (Parthenia and Namia laugh.)


Kim Michaels:I think he would express himself today in whatever culture people are open to, where he can reach people.


Namia:I agree. I agree.

(Parthenia and Namia talk a little about the song, Jesus Walks, and then go into commercial break.)


(Parthenia and Namia discuss the potential of hip hop lyrics to create positive change on issues like police brutality, teen pregnancy, murder and crime. Also, reaching younger people.)

Parthenia: ... And if you look at history, any positive social movements have always begun on college campuses.

Namia:Absolutely. Absolutely.

Parthenia:So, hip hop is this vehicle that, yes it's being exploited and it's being used for a lot of negative things. But I'm saying join Dr. Namia Malachi in a positive hip hop state of mind.

Namia:Yes. Yes.

Parthenia:Because we need this social revolution and we need it fast. Kim, what do you say about that? 

Kim Michaels:I agree with you. It's a matter of reaching young people in whatever way they can be reached. And I think, obviously, the kind of stuff that I'm writing about cannot reach a lot of young people. I'm very well aware of that.

Parthenia:Right. Well, I think we could put some that stuff to music.

Namia:I know. We can can't we. Make a nice rap song about that. (Laughs.)

Kim Michaels:Yes. Sure.

Parthenia:Absolutely. ...

(Parthenia and Namia discuss the support Namia had in doing her thesis.)

Parthenia:OK. Thank you so much for joining us. Coming up in the next half hour, I have the founder of a new social app. Oh, I'm so delighted to bring him on board, because he's my former teacher. Ashwin is coming up. And Diane, talking about their new app, Ahhaa.

Namia:Oh, very nice. Thank you.

Parthenia:Thank you.


Parthenia: OK. We're back with more of Divine Love Talk on CRN. And in this half hour I have my mentor and teacher, Ashwin. …

(Parthenia, Diane and Ashwin discuss how Parthenia and Ashwin met, how Diane and Ashwin met, and what inspired them to create the Ahhaa app.)

Parthenia: Absolutely. Kim Michaels, what are your thoughts on that? Kim is joining us via Skype.

Kim Michaels:Yeah. I think it's a wonderful idea. I mean, we obviously need something to bring people together and have a positive way to uplift each other. And I think it's a great initiative.

(Diane explains how Ahhaa gives a platform to share social services that people are doing and that they can create vision boards on the app that show a well-rounded vision of a person.)

Parthenia:Wow. Because social media can help you or hurt you a lot. We've seen so much in the news about bullying in social media. Also, about people posting really negative, hateful things about other people on social media that are not true at all. And so, a platform like Ahhaa, where the focus is on global inspiration; I think that it needed. … Oh, we lost the connection. OK. Well, Diane and Ashwin were joining us from India; but, as with technology, when it's good, it's very good and when it's bad, there you go. Well, Kim, are you still there?

Kim Michaels:Yeah. I'm here.

Parthenia:So, let's continue the discussion about the positive effects of social media.

Kim Michaels:Well, I think you're absolutely right that we need something to filter it, because it's actually a threat to the internet. If you think about the internet, how it started; it started with positive people, highly educated, very intelligent people who wanted to share something positive, their progress. And what is, unfortunately, in danger of happening is that it deteriorates to the lowest common denominator. And a lot of negative people take over. And the positive people withdraw, because who wants to be mobbed on your own facebook page.

Parthenia:(Laughs.) Absolutely. Did we get them back? OK

(Parthenia and Ashwin talk about how to get the app. Also, people looking for validation.)


(Ashwin talks about people in other countries wanting to do the same thing. Diane talks about reaching young school children.) 

Parthenia: Alright. Well, thank you so much for joining us. I will have you guys back on, when you're in the US. Kim Michaels, thank you so much, as always for joining us via Skype.

Kim Michaels:Your welcome.

Parthenia:And I wish you guys continued inspiration.

Diane and Ashwin:Thank you.

Parthenia:Thank you. We'll see you guys next week.



Copyright © 2015 Kim Michaels


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