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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 08:05 GMT 09:05 UK
Hip hop summit ends on high note
Sean Combs
Sean Combs: "So proud to be a part of this summit"
The first hip hop music summit ended in New York on Thursday with musicians and industry executives agreeing to follow voluntary guidelines to advise parents of music's lyrical content.

But those at the summit vowed to protect rap artists' freedom of speech by fighting US Congressional efforts to censor the music.


Hip hop is more powerful than any American cultural movement we've ever had

Russell Simmons, Def Jam Records
The three-day summit, which brought together more than 200 rappers, industry executives and black politicians, has tried to clean up the music's image and stop its sometimes murderous fueds.

The summit also had a political agenda, pushing for a stronger relationship between the industry and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Million Family Movement, the Nation of Islam and Rap the Vote.

Power

Hip hop is big business: Americans spent nearly $2bn (1.42bn) on rap music last year.

Russell Simmons, one of its leading impresarios, said it was time that performers recognised their power.

"Hip hop is more powerful than any American cultural movement we've ever had," he said.

"The success that they've created and the industry that they built and the influence that they have - I'm hopeful that they'll take more responsibility about whatever it is that they do."

Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam was one of the political activists who attended the summit, telling rappers: "You've now got to accept the responsibility you've never accepted.

"You are the leaders of the youth of the world."

Code

One of the intentions of the summit was to co-ordinate the diverse political agendas of the music.

Besides pushing for greater co-operation with existing black political organisations, there was a call for the formation of "hip hop think tanks" with the initial think tank at Columbia University, New York.

But many American parents will be most interested in the voluntary code which appears to have been reached on how to market albums.

In a move welcomed by Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), those present agreed on a uniform standard for the "Parental Advisory" label.

The standard states that labels should be plainly displayed - and be unable to be removed - on the cover art for all necessary albums at one set size.

This also applies to all advertisements including the products, including online advertising.

Tupac Shakur
Tupac Shakur was a victim of one of rap's feuds
Leading rap label Def Jam also unveiled what it called its "hip hop mentoring programme", which would attempt to help with the career development of rap artists who sometimes lead chaotic personal and professional lives.

Rapper and producer Sean Combs - also known as "Puff Daddy" - spoke of his satisfaction at the agreements reached.

"I am very proud, so proud to be a part of this summit," he said.

"The things I have seen in the last three days have touched me in such a positive way and I think it gave me true representation to what hip hop is and what hip hop is about."

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The BBC's Jane Standley
"The summit also agreed to protect rap artists freedom of speech"
See also:

12 Jun 01 | Music
Hip hop assesses its image
17 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Puff Daddy cleared of gun charges
17 May 01 | Music
Hip-hop embraces peace
20 Nov 00 | Africa
Hip hop 'comes home'
15 Jun 01 | Music
Rap's maturity 20 years on
17 Sep 98 | Entertainment
Tappers & hip-hoppers delight
23 Apr 01 | Music
Rap's stormy Knight
14 Mar 01 | Entertainment
US music fans prefer rap to country
03 Aug 98 | New Music Releases
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