Atlanta 'conscious rapper' trying to balance mainstream hip-hop - CBS46 News

Atlanta 'conscious rapper' trying to balance mainstream hip-hop

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As a self-described "conscious rapper," Sa-Roc strives to be heard in a music genre often criticized for glorifying gangs and drugs and degrading women. 

"I think what's so frustrating is [mainstream rap] offers such a limited perspective," said Sa-Roc from a northwest Atlanta studio. "Whereas before so many different voices were heard in the music, now it's one dimensional, where we're only seeing hyper sexual images of women, the glorification of the hustler and the glorification of the gangster."

Sa-Roc told CBS Atlanta reporter Jeff Chirico that children are influenced by the music they hear and she feels an obligation to be the positive role model rarely heard or seen in media today.

Sa-Roc raps about overcoming one's adversity, being true to oneself and constantly learning and growing.  

Hip-hop writer Sebastien Elkouby said he believes record companies should sign and radio stations should play more artists with positive messages.  

In his recent article, "Is hip-hop destroying black America," Elkouby said the music industry has redefined hip-hop and has been bombarding listeners "with a steady diet of rappers talking about drugs, sex and violence for over two decades." 

Elkouby points out that artists like Chief Keef, who raps about selling drugs, taking drugs and shooting people, are easy to blame but said Jimmy Iovine, the head of Interscope Records, should be held accountable for signing Keef to a $6 million record deal while the then-17-year-old was on house arrest for pulling a gun on a cop. 

"[Chief Keef] needs help. He doesn't need a multimillion dollar record contract promoting increasing the murder rate in Chicago," said Elkouby. 

Elkouby determined, in his article, that hip-hop is not destroying Black America, but that it does "devalue" the lives of black people in exchange for financial gain. Elkouby called on record companies, radio stations and TV networks to be more socially-responsible.  

Longtime radio personality, Frank Ski, acknowledged his industry - radio - is part of the "problem," saying he tries to balance the negative messages in rap by sharing positive messages during his radio programs.

Ski said the music industry could be more socially responsible if it wanted to, but predicted the companies would "go out of business."

But Ski said he thinks the industry is beginning to see a shift to more positive artists like Kendrick Lamar who can rap about the streets in an artistic and more socially responsible way. 

While Lamar may be a start, Sa-Roc said more balance is needed and she has helped launch a movement called "God Hop."

"It's a genre of music that's not religiously affiliated. It's hip-hop that's all grown up. Hip-hop that promotes a positive and conscious message," said Sa-Roc.

"We're not going to sell you drugs in the song, we're not going to murder you in the song, and we're not going to degrade women at all," said producer Sol Messiah. 

For positive hip-hop to catch on, Sa-Roc said listeners need to demand better from music industry executives. 

"The responsibility really falls on us to let them know what we want," said Sa-Roc. "If we stop supporting what they're promoting, they'll have to change."

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