August 17th 2013 marks the date of The Second Annual Philly Stand Up! “The Take Over” Youth Walk And Parade. The walk, starting at Love Park (15th and JFK) at 11AM, and ending at Broad and Erie, will encourage “youth-led movement” while discouraging “violence and hopelessness”.
Last year, the walk brought out over 300 youth from across Philadelphia, to speak out against the unfair curfew that was implemented after a surge of “Flashmobs” that popped up across the city. This year, there is a fair share of social issues that are plaguing the youth, not only Philadelphia, but throughout the country. The most outstanding is the justice free death of a Trayvon Martin and the closing of dozens of Philadelphia public schools.
In addition to creating unity throughout communities, this year’s youth walk with serve as a proverbial stage for a handful of young local talent. Between Love Park and Black and Nobels, dancers and emcees will exemplify that teens can do more than create negative uproarious energy, but transfer said energy to create beautiful art. HHPP got a chance to get up with some of the Hip-Hop artist who will be preforming at this year’s Philly Stand UP youth walk.
The youngest performer on the bill is Raw D, a fourteen- year-old emcee originally from Tallahassee, Florida. Before moving to Philadelphia, two years ago, Raw D, was already rapping. He wrote his first song at ten-years-old, and despite a few haters, he never gave up. “When I was 8, I used to just freestyle all the time, and by the time I turned ten, I wrote my first song. Nobody liked it. They were like, ‘That jawn corny. That jawn wack.” But I’m ten-years-old so I’m like “Ard whatever.” It encouraged me to continue writing.
Coming from another school district, Raw D missed most of the 7th grade, This now allows him to go to an untraditional school that allows students to complete two years’ worth of work in only one. Although Raw D has not has not experienced the Philadelphia School District to its fullest, his take on what’s going on in the city is valid. “I feel like there are a lot of kids not getting their chance at education because of the schools closing. Their block [neighborhood] schools are closing, so they have to go all out of town to go to another school. So they are wasting money and education.” With so much insight as to what’s going on in his community, Raw D understands the importance of a movement like Philly Stand Up. “I think it is positive for the kids in the streets that don’t have nothing to do, because of the school cuts and all of that. So they really gonna be in the streets. I think it’s cool for them to have something to do for the summer.”
Fifteen-year-old Khari Wynnefield exudes great positive energies in his words and lyrics, which was also shown when it came to trying to save the now closed Lamberton High School. “We did everything we could to keep that school open. We did a walk. We were on the news . We put up signs. We passed out fliers to tell everybody come out and support us when they were about to close. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough.” Its rough for Khari, he expected to grow up with his classmates, and he doesn’t seem to understand why that it’s not possible. ”Like I said it sucks because you want to grow up with the people you went to school with, and just see that you can no longer do that, it doesn’t make sense. It’s a learning experience. We move on from it. Just because the kids failed the test, it doesn’t mean they can’t improve. I feel like they didn’t give us a chance to show them what we could really do.
As well as Raw D, Khari has dealt with his fair share of hecklers and haters. In a rehearsal for his first ever performance at his High School’s talent show, a group of cheerleaders decided to mock and laugh at him while he was on stage. This would be a blow to almost any guys esteem, but instead of feeling sorry for himself or questioning his skills, Khari ended up making a positive impact on the crowd the next day at the show. “I came out and people were screaming. I really did my thing up there. Then it clicked in me ‘that everybody is not going to like your music, but at the same time if you trust in yourself and believe you can do anything that you want to do you’ll be good.’ My first performance was awesome!”
Sixteen-year-old North Philly native, Sy Sossa, seems to be the most dedicated of the bunch. Everything he does is in promotion of himself as an artist. Every social media update he post ends with the hastag #teamsysossa. Hailing from 11th and York, Sy has experienced the loss of love ones, whose deaths ultimately stemmed from a lack of organization, love and unity throughout communities. “Philly Stand Up is a great movement, that’s why I am taking a role inside of it. The violence as far as teens is crazy. A couple of my close friends like Lance, Tracy and all them, they got killed too. Philly Stand Up would make a big difference. It will let people know that people is out here trying to change things. If everybody participates and everybody from different communities come into it, I think we can.”
Like many teens, Sy Sossa is beginning to see the unfair methods of operation that the city is choosing to use. There is an infamous myth going around stating that prisons are being built based off of the test scores of third graders. Apparently this story must have reached Sossa. “I think it’s crazy. They are closing schools to build a prison. It’s basically for all the dropouts, people that are messing up.” Amid all of these horror stories and failing schools, Sy maintains focus. “I don’t worry about the whole school, I worry about myself. I always try to shoot high. I don’t feel like I am under pressure.”
When twenty-two-year-old rap artist, Microwave Frank was attending the now closed Strawberry Mansion, he didn’t have that many extracurricular options to choose from. Luckily, art was an option for the multi-talented tattoo artist. “There were really not too many avenues unless you were JROTC or something like that. The ones that were available were art. I picked up art. I am a tattoo artist. I love to draw.”
As far as Philly Stand Up goes, Microwave Frank is expecting a rather large turnout simply because he finds it to be what the city needs. “I think it is something very beneficial for the public, it changes the environment. Once you get people who live in an environment, to see this Philly Stand Up movement, I am quite sure that it will become beneficial, marketable, and valuable. People will want to come. Curiosity kills the cat so people are going to want to come and see what it’s all about.”
Being the oldest set to preform, Microwave Frank gave some sage advice for teens in the arts and in general. “Keep raping. Keep playing with your words. Start doing more stuff so you can have more stuff to rap about, as long as it is the positive. And be productive. A productive mind keeps an ongoing mind. I can sit in my room and write a thousand raps but when I was young, I could sit in my room and thing about a thousand other things I could do. Over time I found that motivation and understanding that this is a gift and I need to use it. If you got a gift, its time to go use it. Be smart. Don’t follow. You don’t have to be a product of your environment. You don’t have to be a product of Hip-Hop’s environment if it’s negative. Just be yourself. You know what’s right and you know what’s wrong.”
Philly Stand Up is expecting a great turn out for this year’s youth walk. All the performers are excited to be a part of such an influential movement and are grateful to have the chance to exhibit their art to the community. A hard feat, when many things in their life seem to be going against them. This day will serve as an eye opener for many youngsters who feel as if they are hopeless when it comes to not being a product of their environments.
The Hip Hop Party For The People Encourages EVERYONE to come and participate in The Second Annual Philly Stand Up! “The Take Over” Youth Walk. For more information contact Keturah Cesar at 267-237-5127. Donations are welcome.