Seattle Hip Hop Demands Media Justice

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By Julie-C

While mainstream media and the hip hop press have been scrambling to respond to Don Imus, the Seattle Hip Hop community has focused its attention on cultivating more lasting, structural changes in the struggle towards media justice. In late March, 206 Zulu and Reclaim the Media hosted a NW Hip Hop Community Town Hall to address the FCC Payola Settlement in late March, and to develop a statement of response. Drawing upon Universal Zulu Nation’s Bring Back the Balance Campaign, the 2004 Seattle Statement on Radio, and Youth Media Council’s report “Is KMEL the Real People’s Station?” participants identified four areas to prioritize in organizing enforcement efforts. We will move to ensure that:


1) High quality local artists are not given the backseat to national artists when it comes to radio airplay.

2) Local youth run Hip Hop organizations such as 206 Zulu, Seattle Youth Council, the Think Big Foundation, and Seattle Urban Debate League get access to radio airwaves for outreach and community education

3) The presence of relevant public affairs/news be available in hip hop programming so local issues impacting youth such as police brutality, gentrification, and violence can be addressed in a widely accessible public forum

4) The impact of negative, repetitive messaging delivered to youth through mainstream Hip Hop be mitigated by the presence of local artists who have a better understanding of local issues and a higher level of accountability to the audience.


This project is a continuing effort with a two tiered focus of 1) increasing the visibility and capacity of those independent urban outlets that already adhere to these principles and 2) holding corporate media outlets accountable to the common good they are supposed to serve. Our next steps on this project are to define measurables for each of the four areas. Big ups to folks from Odd Fellas, 4BC Musik, Highline Community College, Pusher Promotions, Worldwide Confined, Seattle University, Seattle Urban Debate League, Think Big Foundation, The Temple of Hip Hop, Music Inner City, KBCS, Silent Lambs Project, and Mel Hart Enterprises who were there. For more information on media justice in the Northwest check out www.reclaimthemedia.org.

Note from Editor: Save Internet Radio! The final decision of the three judges that make up the Copyright Royalty Board may not be so final.  Their heavily disputed decision to drastically increase internet radio rates has come up against some democratic resistance.  Reps. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., and Donald Manzullo, R-Ill., on Thursday introduced the Internet Radio Equality Act.   You have helped get the fight for the small broadcaster to the house.  Please continue to support this timely legislation by visiting www.Savenetradio.org and getting your reps to co-sponsor.