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Vegan Hip Hop Movement

March 23, 2011

vegan hip hop movementWhile catching up on Animal Voices podcasts on my most recent road trip, I was pleased that one show had an extended segment for the vegan hip hop movement. There has been a regular segment by Kevin Tillman on the show highlighting various vegan hip hop artists, but until I listened to the “Fresh Mixed Greens” show and heard more of Kevin’s thoughts on this sub-genre / movement, I didn’t realize the significance.

It turns out that hip hop has a long tradition of speaking out on a variety of social justice issues, and that makes hip hop a natural genre to find artists speaking on vegan issues as well, and from several perspectives. The connections between the issues and intersections within social justice issues is at the heart of the discussion of veganism in hip hop.

From the description on a 2008 Animal Voices interview with Kevin Tillman:

In this interview, Kevin takes us back to the roots of hip hop, and offers us insight into its message of empowerment that arose within the South Bronx and continues to inspire communities internationally. Indivisible from that resistant history, the world of vegan hip hop raises its voice for humans and nonhumans alike.

Engaging issues related to consumerism, colonialism, racism, animal exploitation, among others, the vegan hip hop movement cultivates a holistic anti-oppression approach that pushes veganism and animal rights to go further, while also urging hip hop to broaden its scope.

The recent Animal Voices show was focused more on highlighting a variety of musicians, while the 2008 interview has a more in-depth look at hip hop in general and it’s connection to veganism. Listen to them both, they have a lot to offer, in very different ways.

Of course I’m pretty late to the party here. Breeze Harper mentioned it on a 2008 blog post on Vegans of Color, and had a very interesting post on her Sistah Vegan blog about a year ago, talking about the way the vegan hip hop movement and the artists themselves give an alternative role model to the typical one depicted in mainstream media.

This is the music I want my son to listen to. It’s a more positive model of alternative African American masculinity that is rarely shown in the mainstream. Ietef is not an anomaly. There are many young brown and black men in the USA who engage in social justice activism around the issues of healthy eating and green living, they just don’t get the media attention they deserve, simply because the other forms of African American masculinity being depicted in the mainstream are more profitable (and reflect the reliance that consumer capitalism has on depicting black males as over-consumers of products that don’t cause harmony to the body, as well as depicting them as over [hetero]sexualized males who only care about lots of sex, furs, expensive jewelry, fine liquors, etc).

If you know Ryan of VegBlog at all, it won’t surprise you to learn that he posted about the now-well-known Dead Prez song, Be Healthy, all the way back in 2000! That post predated Ryan’s transition to veganism, perhaps the Dead Prez had an influence?

Art is a very powerful communication tool, and it’s power is likely under-realized within the animal rights movement. Music in particular can have a powerful impact, partially due to the fact that we listen to music we like repeatedly. Even lyrics that don’t sink in the first few times, eventually hit our ears at a time when our minds are open, and art does tend to help open our minds to new ideas.

The vegan hip hop movement can be found on Facebook and MySpace and on their blog, in addition to their regular animal voices segment.

I already quoted this, from the Animal Voices interview from 2008, but I need to requote it for emphasis:

Engaging issues related to consumerism, colonialism, racism, animal exploitation, among others, the vegan hip hop movement cultivates a holistic anti-oppression approach that pushes veganism and animal rights to go further, while also urging hip hop to broaden its scope.

That should be the anthem of the Animal Rights movement, don’t you think? Maybe the vegan hip hop movement can help us get there.

Here is one song that was recently highlighted by the vegan hip hop movement, to give you a small taste:

Go forth and listen to more of what the vegan hip hop movement has to offer!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2011 10:01 pm

    an absolute honor to have just read this amazing piece on the vegan hip hop movement! i appreciate the work that is done here (on this blog) in general and to learn of your support of the vhhm certainly made my day! i hope to collaborate more in the future. keep doing what you’re doing!!

  2. March 24, 2011 6:01 am

    Thanks Kevin! I love what you are doing with the vhhm, and I’d love to collaborate more in the future as well!

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