Despite all its harsh criticism, today’s rap still has a lot to offer in way of being a voice for black and brown communities. As shown throughout the decades, regardless of which style that’s currently being hailed as the face of hip hop music, there is always a group or an artist that defies the popular branding of the genre at the moment. Whether it’s the often regurgitated gangster/stripper memes or catchy pop-tinged bars that keep Karen’s cosmo buzz hitting, there is always someone who manages to nudge hip hop music out of it’s categorical box. Think Outkast, think Lauryn Hill, think Kendrick Lamar. Emcees like these don’t set out to be the ultimate voice of their generations. It just happens organically. Mt. Vernon, New York’s Niko Brim is an example of the evolutionary cycle at work. At 23, the young rap upstart has already amassed a healthy buzz with the few videos and freestyles he’s dropped on YouTube, but his most recent release “Hard to Believe” takes a look at the current state of society through the eyes of this current generation. Yup, the same gen that was quick to be written off as being too cynical and self-absorbed to contribute to hip hop’s artistic progression.
It seems that Niko Brim’s potential hasn’t gone unnoticed as lead Juneteenth activist and community leader, Opal Lee has partnered with him. Cherished for her years of work spreading Juneteenth awareness, Opal Lee continues her commitment to the cause at the age of 93. Since 2016, year she has celebrated Juneteenth by walking 2 ½ miles to honor the 2 ½ years that went by before slaves in Texas were notified of their freedom. As of today Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia are only states that officially recognize the day. That’s with Texas finally signing on this year. However, Opal Lee and Niko Brim are petitioning to get Juneteenth recognized as a federal holiday in every state. One part of the joint initiative is a daily show called “The Power Hour” where Niko and guests will discuss facts about the holiday.
For many of us in states outside of the south that haven’t learned much about Juneteenth this is an excellent opportunity to become educated and join the celebration of one of the most pivotal events in US history.