By: Tia Lowe, Campus Reporter | @TiaMLowe and Taiyler Simone Mitchell, Life+Style Reporter| @taivlersimone
Rappers and entrepreneurs came together to promote social consciousness through hip-hop at Pitch and Flow – a rap contest hosted by MC Lyte on Sept.13. Lowe’s Hardware partnered with Unreasonable Group, an organization that supports socially aware entrepreneurs, to sponsor the event.
Eight rap artists and entrepreneurs were paired with each another a week or less in advance to vocalize the entrepreneurs’ objectives and purpose. The competition consisted of three thematic rounds: issue, solution, and impact. In each round, the rappers were tasked with rhyming about their partner’s business goals while sticking to the theme of each round.
The unique combination of business, social awareness and hip-hop drew a large crowd of all ages to D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Aidah Fontenot, 35, used the event as a teaching opportunity for her son and his friend. “I want them to see… that you can be cool and you can do good things for your community,” said Fontenot.
A panel of three judges, including Melissa Bradley, a serial entrepreneur and investor; Stretch Armstrong, DJ and radio host and Young Paris, a Roc Nation recording artist; gave commentary after each round on their favorite acts.
After each round, the audience participated in mobile voting to determine the winner based off of which rapper delivered the message most clearly. After an intense three-way battle in the final round, rapper Professor Lyrical–an associate math professor at University of the District of Columbia–and Samir Ibrahim, CEO of environmental tech company, SunCulture–emerged victorious after only four days of preparation. The winning pair walked away with $7,500 each.
The company creates solar-powered irrigation for farmers in East Africa with the goal of cutting the costs of growing produce, thereby increasing profits. Ibrahim said the bulk of his prize money will go directly towards his business. “Our goal at SunCulture is to help smallholder farming households become much better off in an affordable and environmentally friendly way,” he said.
Following the competition, rappers Doug E Fresh and Young Paris gave musical performances. “I think this should be a reoccurring event,” Fresh said. “Entrepreneurs and rap artists can do magical things when they come together and talk about things that mean something. I call this the ‘Battle to change.’”