The Mason-Dixon Hip-Hop Project explores the correlation between the current race relations in the Southern region of the United States and the messages conveyed by Southern hip-hop artist through their music. Initially, we planned to use the name “Kendrick is from Compton”, which references Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar, but we felt the project’s title needed to be something stronger that would convey a strong message.
In addition to race relations, we also received insight on current social issues, unique city culture, regional and city hip-hop history and the use of political content in music. Today many social injustice topics are a popular topic in the United States. The controversial deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castile in Minneapolis, MN are two of the most recent events to spark great debate. Music, specifically hip-hop is viewed as an art of storytelling that reflects the realities an artist’s environment.
One of the questions we posed was ‘Do artist utilize their platform to address or acknowledge relevant social issues today?’
Social issues in the South extend back to pivotal moments in history as such as the civil rights movement. Today, the “Black Lives Matter Era” ( the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case until the present) has drawn parallels to the civil rights movement. Many of the most popular hip-hop artists derive from the South. Because of this, we decided to cover the Southern United States. For our project, we referred to the South as states below the Mason-Dixon Line.
We traveled to nine Southern states which included: Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee and Washington, DC.
We interviewed different activists, scholars, hip-hop artists and other people within the hip-hop industry.
Some of our interview questions included but were not limited to:
- Do you think that Southern hip-hop artists produce enough politically conscious music?
- How do you describe race relations in America? In your city?
- Describe your city’s culture.
- Give a brief history of your city’s hip-hop as you know it.
- How can artists utilize their platform to create peace and harmony amongst all races?
- Is it an artist’s responsibility to speak out against social injustice?
- Do YOU speak out against Social Injustice?
- Our main purpose was to utilize different social media platforms to create awareness and increase dialogue on important, yet unspoken issues in our communities.
- Create awareness about the culture and diversity in the South.
- Create awareness and inform our audience about hip-hop history and its evolution.
We created social media profiles for the Mason-Dixon Hip-Hop Project on various platforms including Twitter (@MasonDixonHH), Facebook (The Mason-Dixon Hip-Hop Project), and YouTube ( The Mason-Dixon Hip-Hop Project) in addition to our e-mailing list. We used the hashtag #MasonDixonHH to share our project across different platforms.
Mass media gives us the power to inform, spread awareness and most importantly share stories. Social media gives us the ability to simultaneously interact and receive feedback on hotbed topics. Personally, this project provided great insight for us. By experiencing different environments and cultures, we were able to find correlations between those factors and social issues. We were also able to make connections between an artist’s music and their environment. We hoped that this project would help us get to the root of issues that plague our country and communities. Although issues can not be solved in a short period of time, increased dialogue can help speed up the process. We hope that the Mason-Dixon Hip-Hop project increases dialogue.
We’ve already had the opportunity to create some dialogue as our project picked up some buzz from blogs and other media outlets. We hope to continue to create dialogue as we continue to post a video a week from our collected footage.