This morning at 11:30 am, Youth Urban Update on WHDH TV (Boston NBC affiliate) featured a segment with Project: Think Different's Project Manager, Melissa Krodman, and four of the artists featured on P:TD's "Empowerment: The Power to Break You Free" record: Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo, Banjineh Browne "Optimus" of the Foundation Movement, Kedaar Kumar of Heist, and Lyrical.
Melissa talked about how P:TD, as a non-profit media arts organization, is using music and video to "shape popular culture so that it's empowering" and to produce "socially conscious messages." She went on to say,
"A lot of our work is media literacy, engaging people in raising their awareness about how the media effects our perspectives of self and of our communities. As a solution to negative imagery and stereotypes that we see in our media, we're producing socially conscious and empowering messages. This album we put out, Empowerment, is all about that. We're harnessing the power of music to shape popular culture and raise the lowest common denominator so that we are all more engaging, civically active human beings."
Lyrical said that what attracted him to P:TD and his wanting to be on the album was "the opportunity to speak a different side of music that is not reflected as much in mainstream media". He said, "kids are being lulled to sleep to believe that what they see from other artists is reality" in commercial videos on mainstream channels. "It's easy to sell sex, violence, and materialism but it's a little harder to sell a positive message unless it's believed by the people around it that it can sell."
Melissa said that P:TD "is trying to popularize a new form of message."
"We're trying to really change what you're hearing on the mainstream. So, that one day you will turn on your commercial radio and you'll hear a song about the struggle in Palestine, or hear about the struggle happening in the streets, or what it's like being a teenager dealing with violence everyday. These are the kinds of messages we are trying to popularize.
We believe that popular culture, just because it's popular doesn't mean that it has to be substance free."
Iyeoka said the music on the CD, "It's still real stories, but it's our stories. It's our choices of what we decide to talk about. It happens that what we decide to talk about is positive and it doesn't degrade other races or other people."
When asked what issues he is dealing with in his music, Kedaar Kumar of "Heist" said, "We're trying to bring forth awareness about poverty and commercialism with our tune on the album." He said that Heist is trying to "make amends with what we're seeing, negativity in the community," and said "that's what we feel we need to do."
When asked why the artists think that sex and violence sells so much through commercial media, Banjineh said,
"Very few people control all the outlets in terms of where you are hearing that information," and "since they control those outlets most choices are not made available to folks. Often times if that is not something that is available to people they say 'uh, oh something positive, that's corny and they associate it with corny music.'"
Check out Project: Think Different.
Buy the Empowerment CD.