The Footaction Family Cypher video was shot during the SXSW music and tech festival with up and coming rappers Sylvan LaCue, L.A. Van Gogh, Taylor Bennett and singer Rotimi. It was released this week on Youtube and the 16 bars are meant to be a fun “code” indicative of the vision of the SXSW festival. All the rappers involved express a narrative through their music of what ordinary people go through on a daily basis in socio-economic neighborhoods around the nation. Drug trafficking, gang-related violence permeate down through the national concisousness to the neighborhood level and affect people’s daily lives, i.e. “Real sh**”. The Freestyle approach by the rappers shows their intelligence and ability which has lifted them to this point while the lyrics show their “world” which has influenced and imprinted on their lives.
It is an artistic answer to what Edward R. Murrow spoke about in 1958 in his famous “Lights and a Box” speech, exuding to the audience that journalism and communication should strive for more than high total audience numbers and profits. A balance could and should be struck between fun programming and advertising mixed with realities which could change people’s minds on how they looked at the world. LaCue, Van Gogh and Bennett all have songs which focus on their own personal struggles coming from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds and their ability to find a profession which lifted their lives. Van Gogh’s “Thirsty Thursday” is one such song which talks about the difficulties of life for young people and the ease of their ignorance to pop a pill and/or drink to forget. LaCue’s “Quest” tells the story of his life which many can identify with in solidarity as they work to build a better one. Bennett’s “Broad Shoulders” is a spoken word/rap message set to a beat which reaches a person’s core.
Although their are many stories of people making it, many get consumed in their own worlds. The Social Science Research Council’s Measure of America project rated that one in seven Americans age 16 to 24 is neither working nor in school. From a study on the influence of rap in the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Communications, 2013, Rap music does contribute to violence towards women. The SXSW festival, which has grown since their inception in 1986, focuses on innovative thinking in music, technology and filmmaking–not just for big budget Hollywood movies, but in such categories as short films and documentaries. The demographic age of the attendees are between 21-34 years, the festival is broadcast over all social media outlets and the President even attended this year. All this put together given by the Family “Cypher” rappers in Footaction clothing even further shows the balance of what Murrow’s vision could be.