Hip-Hop Rites of Passage

Hip-Hop is an international and intergenerational cultural movement formed by youth of color in New York City during the early ‘70s in an attempt to unify street gangs, promote positivity, and empower the marginalized. Decades later, hip-hop has become a central fixture in mainstream music and continues to be one of the greatest influences for youth worldwide, no matter their background. Hip-hop has become a catalyst for education, conflict resolution, community empowerment, and more. However, hip-hop’s evolution into a multi-billion-dollar industry has inevitably been commodified and exploited by those who do not have the culture’s best interests in mind. Because of this, it has become formulaic and sensational, perpetuating ignorance, violence, misogyny and negative imagery that is diametrically opposed to its core principles.

Master Artist: King Khazm (Seattle)

Khazm’s quest as a lifelong student of hip-hop began at an early age when he became immersed in his local community and the PNW’s unique cultural legacy. Defying societal misconceptions about wheelchair users, Khazm travels to hubs of hip-hop across the U.S. to witness and participate in major events that attract audiences worldwide. He had the honor to learn firsthand about the elements and evolution of hip-hop from its original pioneers. In 2004, he would form 206 Zulu, a community based non-profit organization that uses hip-hop as a platform for self-empowerment, community service, and social change. Khazm has since conducted lectures that extend beyond hip-hop at schools, juvenile detention centers, and conferences both locally and internationally.

“I’ve traveled many parts of the world where hip-hop is profoundly meaningful and a vital component for survival in severely impoverished cities and countries. The music has been used to influence change and continues to offer a brighter tomorrow.”

Apprentice: Ian Lee Torres (Seattle)

Ian is a writer and aspiring musician who has studied poetry and music throughout his academic career. He has completed 206 Zulu’s ‘Beats to the Rhyme’ program, where he was given access to a studio along with other aspiring emcees. Together, they made two albums, a compilation of both collaborations as well as solo tracks. Ian is an emerging performer, having done a total of nine sets at multiple prestigious venues, while also participating in countless open mics and art shares. One of his biggest aspirations is to organize a cultural arts organization and label that allows disenfranchised youth and peoples to make music.  

“Hip-hop is the ability to create something that is mine. Hip-hop is my way to feel heard. Hip-hop is my golden ticket.”

Featured image: King Khazm. Next Level USA.

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