MC Learns About Hip-Hop Diplomacy



By Mack Olmsted, Features Editor

Brown Jewel, a music producer, educator and beatmaker, came to Manhattan College to give a presentation on hip-hop diplomacy during this semester’s first Pizza and Sound event. 

The Pizza and Sound program was primarily introduced to students to give them the opportunity to learn about music, technology and sound while enjoying a slice of pizza with other members of the MC community.

In the past, the Pizza and Sound program consisted of guests who talked about echolocation in bats, how sound is used as an imperial force and numerous other topics. 

When the founder of the program, Mark Pottinger, Ph.D., heard about Brown Jewel’s experience with hip-hop diplomacy, he knew it was the perfect fit to become a topic for the program. 

During the event, Jewel talked to students about hip-hop culture and how it shapes other cultures around them. Jewel is a part of the Next Level organization, a diplomatic project where the US government has used hip-hop culture to connect with other nations recreationally and bridge communities.

“I think it’s important because hip-hop culture is everywhere you look,” Jewel said. “It’s not just here in the States, it’s all over the place and everyone’s trying to uplift each other and find ways to support and make changes in the community. I think you have the power to do so through hip-hop and it’s the easiest connection because music is universal.”

Jewel engaged with audience members throughout the event and even brought four event-goers to do what she described as a compliment battle (C-battle). A C-battle is a practice Next Level does, similar to a rap battle, where two individuals go head to head, but instead of rapping, they compliment each other. 

The game seemed enjoyable to the audience as they laughed at the compliments the participants gave each other.

“I had fun learning about the history of hip-hop. It was a great time,” Chiara Giambroni, junior sound studies major, said. “The C-battle was definitely the best part,” 

Overall, event-goers showed appreciation for the event as they learned about the culture within hip-hop diplomacy. 

Lochlan Reeder, a junior sound studies major,  tries to go to every Pizza and Sound event he can attend. 

“I think learning about the program and hip-hop diplomacy was interesting,” Reeder said. “I’ve never heard of it before. Kind of hearing the benefits and some of the weird nuances of it was great.”

After the event concluded, junior Elisa Ortiz told The Quadrangle she admired the experience of listening to the guest speaker and giving another kick at mixing tapes.

“I thought the speaker was amazing,” Ortiz said. “I want to go speak to her because I’ve tried mixing stuff before, and hearing her talk about it made me think maybe I should take another whack at this.”

At the end of the event, Jewel felt grateful for MC allowing her to give her presentation and reflected on the evening surrounded by engaging students.  

“I honestly hope they [event-goers] feel inspired,” Jewel said. “I never even knew hip-hop diplomacy was a thing when I was in their shoes so I hope it planted a seed, even if they’re not interested in it.” 

For students who are interested and want to learn more about hip-hop diplomacy, Jewel suggests looking at

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