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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Hip-hop embraces peace
hip hoppers Brasse Vannie Kaap
Hip-hop: bid to expose its 'life-affirming' principles
Hip-hop leaders met at the UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday to declare themselves in favour of peace and to call for a change in the way hip-hop is represented.

300 celebrities and public figures attended the International Hip-hop Conference for Peace, organised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Pioneering DJ Grandmaster Flash and musicians Doug E Fresh and Kool DJ Herc were there.

Tupac Shakur
Rap star Tupac Shakur was killed in 1996
Among the speakers was hip-hop artist Chris Parker, who called for a more balanced representation in the music industry for artists who focus lyrics away from sex and violence.

"Hip hop is not a criminal culture," Parker said.

Hip-hop and rap now account for around 13% of music sales in the US.

Biggest stars

These musical styles evolved on the streets of American cities in the 1980s and are characterised by a rhythmic, rhyming delivery of spoken lyrics against a strong bass beat.

It moved into the mainstream in the late 1980s and 1990s when acts like Run DMC, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys won commercial success.

Lauren Hill
Grammy winning hip hop diva Lauren Hill
Now artists including Eminem, Puff Daddy and Dr Dre, along with newer acts like Nelly, Outkast and Xzibit, have become some of the biggest stars on the music scene.

Hip-hop music has become widely associated with violence due to the activities of certain high profile artists.

Rap star Tupac Shakur was killed in a Las Vegas shooting in 1996.

The following year Notorious B.I.G also fell victim to a gunshot while out with Sean "Puffy" Combs.

After a high profile court case Combs - an influential musician and producer himself - was acquitted in March in connection with a nightclub shooting in December 1999.

Parker - who leads a group called the Temple of Hip-Hop - said that hip-hop was anxious to "decriminalise" its public image.

His partner, Professor Z, also known as Dr Zizwe Poe, said that the UN was a natural home for hip hop because of its connection with the "life-affirming principles that underlie the culture and conscience of hip-hop."

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