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Student rappers address racial, social issues


Flint Junior Brandon Horton performs during the "Spit Your Peace" social justice cypher, on Oct 15 at Ansapch 161.

Deonte Gardner, who has been rapping since age 11, was one of the students who participated in the "Spit Your Peace" social justice cypher Saturday night in Anspach Room 161.

“Hip-hop provides an escape for me," said the Chicago junior. "I not only speak for myself, but I also speak for the people.” Gardner performs under the name “Cassius Tae.”

The Collective Action for Cultural Unity and Justus League registered student organizations provided the platform for students to freestyle rap at the hip-hop event. More than 40 students filled the audience to hear hip-hop music and share messages about social issues that minorities face.

The CACU is a student organization that educates students about diversity and common misconceptions that can create tension between different races, cultures and genders. The Justus League is an organization that is dedicated to hip-hop music and the culture that is based around it. The group also looks at the impact hip-hop has had on society.

Ashsa Davis, a junior from Detroit and president of Justus League said her organization teamed up with CACU to promote the social justice aspect of hip-hop and bring people together.

Both organizations thought a cypher — a group that performs rap verses together in a freestyle format — would be the best way to do that, Davis said.

“The point of the cypher is to come up with the better verse and to be the better rapper,” Gardner said.

Alexis Baker, the President of C.A.C.U., wanted the groups to hold a rap battle at first, but the rappers said they would rather do a cypher and write verses instead.

The event opened with spoken word performances. Students performing talked about the struggles of being held back because of their race and how it affected their life.

Members of the Justus League, including Davis, prepared pieces for the show.

The next segment was the rap portion where individual original compositions were performed by a group of rappers, including Cassius Tae, Aaron "Coda" Johnson and Johnnie "JoJo" Buck.

Buck, who also goes by "Dolomite," rapped about his seven-month-old daughter. He said that he grew up without a father and wants to be there for his daughter.

“I don’t want my daughter to have to ask questions, like, ‘Was my father a bad man?’” Buck said.

A video played during the event about how CMU students experienced discrimination by other students and the idea that “Black Lives Matter” is about wanting equality with every other life.

Verses were rapped one after another with a piano piece accompanying the “bars” being performed. Each verse was done by a different rapper. The verses also reflected the theme of social inequality for minorities.

Clinton Township freshman Sydney Reed said she wants to see more events like this on Central Michigan University's campus.

“I think this is something that should be continued, these issues need to be talked about,” Reed said.

Reed said she wants her life to matter as much as anyone else’s.

Both Baker and Davis were satisfied with the performances and the turnout of the event.

“I do wish there were more people here to experience what these people are saying,” Baker said.