Emile YX? represents the positive face of hip-hop. As much community activist as public entertainer, he must be one of the most dedicated hip-hop practitioners on the globe.
A former school teacher, Emile Jansen remains deeply involved in youth education through the vehicle of hip-hop music and culture. Since forming Black Noise in 1988 with like-minded youth, Jansen and crew have never forgotten their roots on Cape Town’s troubled, but vibrant, Cape Flats. A community labeled “colored” by an apartheid government, who central notion of “separate development” forged new identities for displaced and dispossessed peoples in barren and desolate environments for many the Cape Flats are synonymous with crime, much of it violent. Racism is also an inevitable legacy, with notions of cultural difference so entrenched that in the Cape context, it is as much a tension between “brown” and “black” as it is (conventionally seen as) conflict between “black” and “white.”
Addressing this legacy, and in reclaiming one’s African identity remains a central concern for Jansen and Black Noise, as do fundamental issues such as literacy and environmental education. More recent challenges, such as voter education (for the historically disenfranchised) and HIV/AIDS education also feature in their work, and sees them making prolific use of schools, libraries, prisons, and community centers.
While much of Jansen’s work is inextricably bound up with Black Noise, Jansen also initiated Heal the Hood, a touring school-based project the promotes “respect for being African and using these talents responsibly for the benefit of Africa.” In this project discussions with school children are followed by poetry, rap, songs, and drama from pupils dealing with critical issues. Subsequently “Heal the Hood” has become an overall framework or concept for many of their projects.
Hip-hop culture provided Jansen with the means to take control of his own life and it is this ethos that he promotes through his multi-faceted works.
Please consider joining us for a discussion with EmileYX at the Institute for Policy Studies, Friday July 23, 2010. Light refreshments will be provided.