Dems launch new hip-hop task force

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Democratic representatives held a press conference Wednesday to announce the formation of the first ever Congressional Hip-Hop Task Force.

“Hip hop is not just music. It’s not just an art form,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) said. “It’s a culture with a multi-billion dollar economy. But we haven’t harnessed the power of it yet, to make transformative change in legislation.”

Shay Lawson, policy chair for Black Music Action Coalition, spoke about the objectives of the advocacy organization and how it aligns with the new Hip-Hop Task Force.

“[We are] committed to utilizing the cultural capital of black music to influence the music industry and greater society on the issues of racial justice and equity through policy, philanthropic and educational initiatives” Lawson said.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) pointed to the RAP Act, which he and Bowman introduced in 2022 and again last year, as the type of meaningful legislation upon which the task force could build.

Among other things, the RAP Act would limit the use of song lyrics as evidence in court rooms. As of 2022, over 500 cases across the country had introduced rap lyrics as evidence of crimes.

Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, co-chair and founder of BMAC, gave a shoutout to artists like Fat Joe, Meek Mill and Jay-Z for their work within hip-hop culture.

“What you are watching is the maturation of the culture,” Prophet said. “You are watching us come together and take something that came from nothing that came out of despair, that came out of being disenfranchised. Now you’re seeing the effects of that culture growing up.”

In addition to Reps. Johnson and Bowman, the task force will also include Reps. Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.) and Andre Carson (Ind.). It is not clear whether any Republicans will join the task force.

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