Philadelphia rap competition challenges young people to write clean lyrics

Using music to try and save our streets. A program is trying to get teens to look at music differently and, maybe, cut out the cycle of gun violence in Philadelphia.

"They want to know how I wake up and get into it, how I make a big influence and they never knew it," rapped a young man who goes by the name Bikeliferex. He kicked off an event where aspiring rappers and singers come out once a month to spit lyrics.

"Grew up with no father. Only really had my mom. She told me watch them boys you hang around. Gotta’ recognize," rapped another artist. They all get to showcase their writing and stage presence.

It's the "How dope are you?" competition, put on by Sajda Purple Blackwell, who is the co-founder of the Blackwell Culture Alliance.

Her competition comes with a challenge.


"Clean and it cannot celebrate gun violence," said Blackwell, who is challenging them to write lyrics that don't use curse words, the N-word and don't promote violence.

"They may turn on their favorite rapper and what they’re hearing is, you know, shoot em’ up, pop-pop, put them in a casket and that’s what they wake up to. That’s what they go to bed to," Blackwell elaborated.

Anywhere from 20 to 50 young people sign up for each showcase, making a pledge to change the culture of music.

"Hip-hop used to be about beat boxing. Maybe fighting. But, now the instrument is different. Now it’s guns. You don’t get to live another day. It’s not about boxing and that is the street culture," said Blackwell.

Sista Keilana Mungin is one of the artists supporting the positive music movement.

"100 percent I believe that the things we listen to and the things we watch can control your life. It could also make you believe that’s what you’re going to become or what you want to become," she said.

Christopher Burney goes by King Burn. He’s also an artist and he believes this program can help with the violence in Philly.

"You gotta’ plant that seed first, so I feel like this could grow and be bigger than what we even imagine," he said.

People interested in the program can get more information from Blackwell's Instagram account @blackwellcultureallianceinc or the PQRadio1 Instagram account or by dialing 484-775-0772.