Often times young men from the city’s “rougher” areas get unfairly stereotyped by the media. If a family member or close friend has a run-in with the law, young men often find themselves on the receiving end of guilt by association. The reality is that these young men associate with each other out of survival. The media slaps the term “gang member” on some of these at-risk youth, casting a negative connotation on a group of disadvantaged youth who, because of lack of opportunities and positive role models, seek support, guidance and protection from respected men in their community. The life-risking decisions these kids feel forced to make more often than not come from the sole intention to give their mothers, daughters and sisters better lives.
Hip hop first emerged out of such conditions, and has been an effective tool for political and social justice. Rappers’ songs reflect real lived experiences. They use their art to release pain and tell an honest story. Rap lyrics are sometimes criticized as being inappropriate, but it is actually the government’s failure to provide our most marginalized children with adequate living conditions that is inappropriate. We must remember that the “projects” are government housing; a chilling reminder of how our governments allow for the types of living conditions that breed risky activity, putting our most vulnerable community members in danger, then turning around to call the victims of these circumstances the source of the danger.
But the fans are smarter than that. They know rappers are storytellers. And Ruffpup Flykidd of NeWAge Sound is giving rap artists a platform to share these stories. Motivated by personal experiences of growing up in one of Toronto’s high priority neighbourhoods, Ruffpup founded his marketing and branding agency five years ago, with the intention to connect underground artists to a wider fan base. Ruffpup and his talented roster of diverse artists are quickly emerging as a new voice in hip hop, changing the way we think about rap culture and young racialized men.
This new age of rappers is telling an honest portrayal of how a broken system impacts our future’s brightest. The success of these artists paves the way for other youth in the city’s vulnerable neighbourhoods, showing them that a better life is possible through hard work and effectively marketing your talents. With the services provided by NeWAge Sound, Ruffpup is helping young rappers use their art to gain economic stability to give their families a life of dignity that every human being deserves, no matter what neighbourhood you come from.
Check out the NeWAge Sound here.