Hip Hop in Haiti

Hello Ladies and Gents. My name is Chad Harper. I am the founder of Hip Hop Saves Lives. We are a non-profit organization that teaches humanity through Hip hop. We have an after-school program with Negus World working with students from elementary to high school. We educate them on world issues and have them write and record songs to express their thoughts and feelings about these issues, and then highlight these through music videos. Later, we host fundraisers that feature their music to support schools in Africa and Haiti. Soon, I will be publishing a resource here on Digital Is that features this work and shares the process and vision behind it. Before then, I wanted to share a blog with you that captured what this kind of initiative looks like in another space, as I just returned from hosting similar workshops in Haiti and feel inspired to write.  

We recently came back from the spirit-rich country of Haiti. Our efforts support an organization there called Prosjekt Haiti. They have two schools: one in Port au Prince and the other in Saint Louis Du Sud. Both schools are free and provide a school lunch which is what our funds help support. While there, we also teach our program. Making music with these bright souls is always the delight of our journey. This time, we recorded 5 songs in 5 days. Witnessing their excitement to make music and sing and dance to it is a glimpse into heaven. The first question we posed to them to get the process going was “how would you spend your life if money was no object?”

As they recorded responses to the question, I asked the youth leader to translate a few of the verses that they composed, because I did not speak Creole and could not understand them. This helped us to better understand each other and generate a stronger connection. Most of their answers were related to career interests, varying from professional dancer to lawyer to Another 3D animator. Having this conversation helped plant the seed that they can fulfill their own dreams, and that they have agency. 

Another subject we approached,  which is reflected in the song above, was self-control. We shared with them that the only thing in life you have 100% control over is how you react to situations. If you allow someone to upset you and lose control you have just allowed that person to have power over you. This is a subject we discuss often in our youth programming. Just like in the US, teens in Haiti also experience teasing and bullying, and this often times leads to  fights. Young people in our workshop welcomed the idea of maintaining their power. When they created songs about the topics we discussed, one was about this power, and it was the one tune out of 5 that they recorded that they wanted to turn into a Hip hop video, which will be coming soon.  In the meantime, enjoy the lyrics they put together for their beautiful song entitled “I’m going to keep my power”.  

Check back soon for my resource, which should be up in May.