Students address violence in hip-hop song

WE WIN Institute youth have penned a hip-hop song “Stop the Violence, Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” to address police violence against African-Americans.

Under the direction of Chad Heslup, known also as MC Longshot, youth researched, brainstormed, and narrowed down their subjects until they collectively agreed to write a song addressing the issue. The song was written by Maalik Miller, Ashantae Braxton and Shuan Washington.

image4image1Lyrics to “Stop the Violence, Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”
By WE WIN Institute Scholars:
Maalik Miller, Ashantae Braxton & Shuan Washington

WE WIN going hard
Playing in the yard
Got more bars
Than the boy Bruno Mars
Keep doing what ya doing
Never stop grooving
Improve our neighborhood
Police are trying to ruin

Follow me in the store
Never show any compassion
Oh here we go again
They profiling my actions
Raise my hand in class
Cuz I gotta ask a question

Raise my hands for cops
And I still got shot for nothing

Last we checked

What’s a cracked window
Compared to my cracked spine
My kind get more time over petty crimes
Sitting in cells
Falling behind
Losing our minds

Stop the violence,
Hands up don’t shoot,
Stop the violence,
Hands up, don’t shoot.”

image3An overview of hip-hop and rap
By Chad Heslup (MC Longshot)

Hip-hop music and culture began in the 1970s when block parties were becoming popular in New York City, particularly in the Bronx.

Hip-hop culture is centered on four key elements – DJing, graffiti, break dancing and emceeing/rapping. A fifth element often attributed to the culture is knowledge (of self and of Black culture).

In the early years of hip-hop music, the DJ was the star of the show, playing beat breaks from popular songs of the day. Graffiti and break dancing were also more popular in the primal years of the culture. Rapping was the least popular element in the beginning, but gained popularity as the culture evolved and began to spread. The roots of rapping can be found in African culture, especially from West African Griots. Rap music also has influences in American jazz, blues and soul music.

image2Hip-hop culture has been seen as a way for African-American youth to express themselves. Whether spray painting on trains and subways, or doing backspin in a break dance cipher, to how people talk and wear their clothes, hip-hop has allowed disenfranchised youth to be the masters of their universe.

Rapping especially has given a voice to those telling the story of African-Americans. The role of the MC has evolved and grown since the early days of rap music. Lyrical content has become more important as the culture grows and becomes more popular outside of the United States. As all of the elements continue to expand around the world, rap is constantly gaining its own momentum as the leading element of the culture. Strong themes of Afrocentrism, social justice, and political militancy have begun to become staple concepts in many artists’ works.

Rappers such as Rakim, Common, Public Enemy, Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco and more make rap music that reflects the deep economic and sociological plights that are being faced by African-Americans, and that are not being addressed anywhere else in public. Rap is a major voice of the African American experience. At its best, rap music preserves our history as a people and serves as a positive reminder of our African greatness.

September 29, 2015
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