Nowadays, it seems like every rap artist claims that they are representing for the hood, but few of them are present in the community when they are needed the most. Today, black male unemployment numbers are comparable to the Great Depression of the early 1930s. Droughts, heat waves, poor air quality, floods, higher prices for basic necessities, and other challenges of climate change have a disproportional impact on people of color and low-income communities. Our country is on the verge of a clean-energy revolution, but the million dollar question is: Will the ghettos of America share the benefits of the emerging green economy?
Bay Area born and raised emcee, Markese Bryant, is here to ensure that the voice of the Hip-Hop generation is heard loud and clear during the climate-change discussion. 'The solution to black on black crime is black on black employment' says the 25-year-old rapper. 'My mission as an artist is to create hit records real records and green jobs for my community. Ive watched too many of my childhood friends morph from being inspiring and talented individuals to drug dealers, murderers, convicts and murder victims. We need a first chance.' Markese grew up on the streets of East Oakland, where drugs continue to run rampant and living-wage job opportunities are little to none. At the age of four, Markese fell in love with Hip-Hop music when he first heard, Life is Too Short by Too Short. 'Too Shorts music became the backdrop of my life.' In 1990 at the age of six, Markese lost his mother to the streets and his father to the penal system. He witnessed drug dealers making large amounts of money and knew no other or better way of life. 'As I walked to and from my house and Brookfield Elementary School, I remember telling myself that when I grew up, I wanted to be just like them'.. Unfortunately, those words he uttered as a child became reality . In 2005, Oakland Police arrested Markese for selling crack cocaine and marijuana on the same street he traveled as a kid to school. After being placed in a program for first-time drug offenders called the Alameda Country Mentor Diversion Program, Markese enrolled in Laney Community College to meet the requirements of his probation. He decided to take a few African American Studies courses, which eventually deepened his interest to uplift the hood. This newfound passion led to his enrollment at Morehouse College, where he declared African American Studies as his major. During his Junior year at Morehouse, Markese began searching for a way to help prevent black mothers from losing their sons and daughters to the prison system, drug addiction and senseless violence. While seeking a solution, he read, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems by Van Jones. The book details how green jobs can provide disadvantaged youth with an alternative to the streets by creating middle-class careers and pathways out of poverty. 'After I finished reading the book, I was so inspired that I decided to write a theme song for the movement titled, The Dream Reborn.' The song extols the virtues of green living and an investment in green jobs for low income communities. The track was produced by up-and-coming producer Ayo from Sound Speed Music, the grandson of the legendary Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji.
Markese is scheduled to release a semi-autobiographical double EP entitled, The Crisis & The Opportunity, which will take his listeners on his journey from the slums of the Bay Area to the forefront of one of the most progressive movements in the world.
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