Hip Hop Artists Tell Oil Corporations: Don’t Kill California’s Clean Energy Future

Artists from across California urge voters to reject Proposition 23 and 26

By C. C. Song, The Greenlining Institute

The artists at Beatrock Music didn’t become musicians only because they love music—they also believe in hip hop’s power to inspire and motivate young people and people in their own communities.

That’s why they all came together and made the “No on Prop 23” song when Valero and Tesoro bankrolled Proposition 23, the Dirty Energy Proposition, onto the November ballot.  The artists—producer Gammaray, emcees Braelan B, Otayo Dubb, T-Know from The CounterParts, Nomi from Power Struggle, Somos One from BRWN BFLO, and Damn Pete from Think Tank—wanted to produce a song that would be catchy, and would poke through the lies of the “California Jobs Initiative.”“Prop 23 will kill our clean-energy future.  Not only will oil greed continue to pollute our environment, it will also kill the half a million jobs created by the renewable energy economy that our communities so badly need,” T-Know said.  A native of Wilmington, home to many refineries, T-Know was also a beneficiary of the East Los Angeles College’s green curriculum.

“The green economy is a very personal issue for me.  Having grown up in Wilmington, I’m used to the smoke, the pollution, and diseases caused by pollution.  I’ve been frustrated my whole life about what I can do, so that my neighbors can stop dying from cancer,” he said.  “Now I’ve found the answer.  The LA Harbor Region needs green jobs.  Now the oil companies are going to take them from us?  No way!”

The song aims at inspiring communities of color, who have often been undermined by political campaigns, and don’t always receive adequate voter education to make informed choices.  In the past, voters of color have been misguided to support initiatives that hurt the interest of communities of color.

Braelan B said that he has been inspired by the great work that many organizations have done to raise awareness of Prop 23 in California’s diverse communities, as well as Prop 26, another tricky initiative that would make it nearly impossible to raise fees for polluters.  “While it’s been a tough fight I’ve never felt more inspired, and I hope more artists will join us and realize how much power we have in creating social change,” he said.

In his capacity as The Greenlining Institute’s Communications Director, Braelan B said he’s had the fortune to work with groups like Communities United Against Dirty Energy Proposition, The Clean Energy Tour, and the California Student Sustainability Coalition, who has been asking students to pledge to vote No on Prop 23 at http://powervote.ca/.

The song has been picked up by Mother Nature Network’s Siel Ju, one of the nation’s premier green bloggers, who said “No on Prop 23” is “pretty catchy — especially for a song that deals with cancer and asthma!” The song has also been featured in The San Francisco Chronicle’s SF Gate, San Francisco Bay Guardian and LA Public Media’s LA Forward Blog.

Braelan B, a resident of Oakland, said that this election is particularly important for low income communities.  “We’ve got two tricky ballot initiatives, Prop 23 funded by Valero and Tesoro, and Prop 26 funded by my neighbor Chevron, and if these two pass, California’s clean energy future will be destroyed.  We have to send corporations and special interest groups a strong message, that California is not for sale, and hopefully in some small way our music has helped to amplify this message.”

C.C. Song is Green Assets Fellow at The Greenlining Institute, www.greenlining.org.

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