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Street Soldiers

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Street Soldiers TV: Education Town Hall with Papoose

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The Brownsville section of Brooklyn is one of the most economically challenged communities in America. But something amazing is happening at P.S./I.S. 284.

Brownsville has two juvenile detention centers, but no traditional four-year high school. For the 481 students who attend P.S./I.S. 284, that is no excuse for failure.

“Success is for everyone, and it hits home,” Principal Keva Pitts-Girard said. “As long as you want it, and want to strive for it, even if you don’t want it, we try to expose you to it.”

Pitts-Girard and her staff do their best to make sure the children are not negatively impacted by their parents’ lack of resources.

“We provide eyeglasses, we have a dental clinic that comes in,” Pitts-Girard said. “We do all sorts of things to motivate students to ensure that they want to be here.”

They also structured the school day so being hungry won’t interfere with the learning for the pre-kindergarten to 8th graders.

“We open our school at 8 a.m. so that they can have a breakfast program. The good part of us being a renewal school is that we also provide a second meal before they go home,” Pitts-Girard said. “So they have breakfast, they have lunch, and then they get another meal.”

Some of the teachers and staff grew up in Brownsville and bring a personal passion to their work.

“I’m everybody’s parent, I’m everybody’s dad—so I lend my myself to everyone, each and every one of them,” Dean of Students Trevor Glover said. “Discipline does not come from bullying. Discipline comes from service.”

Some estimates put the number of adults in Brownsville who never finished high school at more than 40 percent, so the teaching strategy is to incentivize education. The students are constantly reminded that extra effort and doing well academically brings rewards.

“We have over 100 students that are going skating in Long Island on Saturday just to reward them for taking a step towards their education,” Pitts-Girard said. “They didn’t have to choose to come on a Saturday or during recess, but they came.”

–LISA EVERS

FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

PAPOOSE, Hip Hop Artist and Father https://twitter.com/Papooseonline

STATE SEN. JESSE HAMILTON, Democrat of Brooklyn https://twitter.com/SenatorHamilton

LA SHAWN PAUL, LCSW-R, ACSW, Founder and Lead Clinician, Social Work Diva http://www.socialworkdiva.com

QUARDEAN LEWIS-ALLEN, Founder and CEO, Made in Brownsville https://twitter.com/khwar_deen http://madeinbrownsville.org

KEVA PITTS-GIRARD, Principal, P.S./I.S. 284 http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/…

TREVOR GLOVER, Dean of Students, P.S./I.S. 284 http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/…

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Street Soldiers TV: New York vs. Atlanta: Rivalry for the Capital of Rap

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It’s hip hop’s dirty little secret: the love-hate relationship between New York and Atlanta and the constant competition over which city reigns supreme as rap capital of the world. There may be more to it than just the music.

No one disputes that hip hop started in New York City—breaking new ground as New York artists broke new beats. Hot 97 DJ Funk Flex told me it is really about perspective. He sees Atlanta as very good but not the new capital.

In the 1990s golden era of hip hop, artists from New York and Los Angeles dominated the charts and the culture. But in 1999, a new artist called Lil Wayne turned all eyes on the South.

A few years later, Gucci Mane and T.I. launched the trap music movement. For more than a decade, Atlanta artists dominated the charts.

The emphasis of Atlanta artists like Young Thug, Future and Migos on catchy beats and their flamboyant style resonated with millions of new hip hop fans, taking trap mainstream.

For a while there was a strong belief that Atlanta wasn’t showing New York artists love but that may not have been the full story. New York artists get played in Atlanta—and they go there to party.

Cardi B is leading the charge of New York artists making their mark, according to Atlanta’s DJ Infamous, who is also a tour DJ for Ludacris. Infamous said that another reason city rivalries and boundaries are disappearing is the digital revolution, which means new music is streamed instantly around the world and it doesn’t matter where it comes from.

And as Flex says, ultimately, the fans determine the hits, regardless of where they’re from.

–LISA EVERS

FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

FUNK FLEX, Hot 97 https://twitter.com/funkflex

DJ DREWSKI, Hot 97 https://twitter.com/SoDrewski

CHUCK CREEKMUR, CEO allhiphop.com https://twitter.com/chuckcreekmur

TAP, Hip Hop Artist https://twitter.com/1TapiaSGB

SOLO, Streetz 94.5 https://twitter.com/USofSOLO

DJ INFAMOUS, V 103 https://twitter.com/DJInfamousATL

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Street Soldiers TV: Hip Hop and Women: Has the Disrespect Gone Too Far?

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Society is waking up to all kinds of issues affecting women but in hip hop something else is going on. Some of the hottest new artists are facing troubling charges involving women in their lives at the same time their careers are skyrocketing.

XXX Tentacion, Kodak Black, and Tekashi 6ix9ine are three of the hottest hip hop artists out now. XXX is facing more than a dozen felony charges for allegedly beating and threatening his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Kodak Black was indicted for sexual assault. And Tekashi 6ix9ine pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct with a 13-year-old girl. The publicity around the cases seemed to fuel their rise up the Billboard music charts.

Violence against women is nothing new in the music industry. Eminem’s controversial song with Rihanna drew heavy criticism for its mixed messages about domestic violence. On the R & B side, no amount of musical genius could keep some R. Kelly fans from defecting after disturbing allegations about a 14-year-old girl.

This all comes at a time when women artists are thriving. Cardi B has a mega hot new album. Remy Ma is showing female artists can be married with children. And Nicki Minaj continues to crank out the hits.

Despite the advances, Dream Doll, whose latest single is “Everything Nice,” says it’s still a challenge for up-and-coming female artists to be taken seriously in the male-dominated industry. Dream Doll says that one thing she does to convey a professional image is to always take at least one or two members of her team with her to studio sessions, which are usually all male and often late at night.

–LISA EVERS

FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

DYLAN GREEN, Music Journalist https://twitter.com/CineMasai_

DREAM DOLL, Hip Hop and Pop Artist https://twitter.com/realdreamdoll

RANDOLPH SCONIERS, DSW, LCSW, New Steps Counseling and Founder, Mental-Hop https://twitter.com/NewStepsCounsel

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Street Soldiers TV: Teen Summit Town Hall

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Teens in the East Harlem community face many of the same issues teens do everywhere but here they have the added challenge of avoiding the lure of the streets. Luckily for them there are some programs working to guide them in a positive direction.

Getting money is always a goal, and the temptation is to get it fast any way you can is always there. But Harlem teens also grow up seeing the price some pay for breaking the law. Harder to avoid is the social media beefing between youth in different housing developments.

Lawrence Birthwright, known to the community as Brother Jay or Mr. Jay, grew up in housing, and came up with a plan. Based out of the Stanley Isaacs/James Weldon Johnson Center, the S.A.F.E. Program features sports, leadership training, field trips and educational support for boys and girls. But most of all it’s about the ongoing dialogue and guidance.

We were invited by community leaders to do a special teen summit town hall to give the teens a chance to speak out. You might be surprised by what they have to say.

–LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers

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Street Soldiers TV: Hip Hop and God Featuring Fetty Wap & David Banner

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Acknowledging god and giving back are becoming more common in hip hop than ever before. We got an exclusive first-hand look how hip hop superstar Fetty Wap is sharing the love with his own community.

“God blessed me to be a little fortunate now so I try, especially the main thing I try to do is give back to Paterson,” Fetty said.

He teamed up with the new Price Rite supermarket, the Gray Firm and RFG Productions to give more than 1,000 Paterson, New Jersey, families a very happy holiday weekend. He gave out $25 gift cards so they could make a nice Easter Sunday dinner, something he rarely had himself growing up.

“To be able to live a different lifestyle, it kind of just really empowered me to try to help as many people as I could,” Fetty said.

Hundreds of people waited on line for hours as much to be inspired by his success in defying the odds as to receive his generous gift.

“I got kids, too. To make people happy—that’s what I’m all about,” he said. “I try to do my best.”

The heart of hip hop has never been bigger, more spiritual, and more outspoken about god. In the video “God’s Plan,” Drake gives away nearly a million dollars to people in need. The song set a record for most streams of a single in a day—more than 18 million—and set off the God’s Plan Challenge.

“All over social media you could see fans literally tearing up, getting emotional and also being inspired,” music journalist Sowmya Krishnamurthy said. “The God’s Plan Challenge was basically to do good deeds.”

Snoop Dogg’s first album was called “Doggy Style” and now some fans are crying “Holy hip hop!” over his latest work—a new No. 1 gospel album called “Bible of Love.”

Could Fetty have his own gospel album in the works? Anything is possible for this super-talented artist. For now, he is content to help others and accept dinner invitations.

“If I continue to be blessed, I’m going to always bless my city and make sure they got them plates for me,” he said. “Fetty Wap’s coming through—yeah, baby!”

–LISA EVERS

FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

FETTY WAP, Hip Hop Superstar https://twitter.com/fettywap

SOWMYA KRISHNAMURTHY, Music Journalist https://twitter.com/SowmyaK

OSWIN BENJAMIN, Hip Hop Artist https://twitter.com/OswinBenjamin

DAVID BANNER, Hip Hop Artist https://twitter.com/davidbanner

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Street Soldiers TV: Ending Gun Violence: NYC Youth Stands Up for Change

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Gun violence is one of the biggest issues facing our country. And there seems to be no solution. A new generation of student activists is vowing to change that.

New York City students walked out of class in solidarity with hundreds of thousands around the country over gun violence, one month after the Parkland massacre. Nupol Kiazolu, whose father was shot and killed when she was 8, was among them.

“I’m still not fully there when it comes to healing and dealing with my father being killed,” said Kiazolu, a senior at Nelson Mandela School for Social Change. “But I’m using the pain that I’ve experienced and am still experiencing over his loss to help me and push me forward.”

Students from the city and suburbs gathered at an after-school rally organized by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. More blacks are killed by guns than whites. And their murders are often ignored. But Adams believes the students may be helping to right old wrongs.

“I think that Parkland was an awakening for many that finally heard the cries of those in the urban centers across America,” Adams said. “And now that connection is allowing a mass movement that I believe finally we’ll see a movement in the gun reform conversation.”

While students in low-income communities of color are often exposed to gun violence at an early age, it was a new experience for many of the Parkland students. Yet students from diverse backgrounds are now standing together for change.

“The face of gun violence looks a lot different than the people who are actually dealing with it,” City Council Member Jumaane Williams, a candidate for lieutenant governor, said. “And so my hope is that this bridge does occur.”

Assault rifles, like the one used in Parkland, are the main focus of the gun reform conversation. Adams, a former NYPD captain and a gun owner, said he hopes that focus is expanded.

“The urban problem are 9mm handguns, .380s, .38s—no one is having a conversation about that,” Adams said. “And so our legislators cannot be lost in the emotion of the suburban and rural problem and ignore the urban problem.”

The students seem certain that this time enough really is enough.

“This is something that is going to result in generational impact,” Kiazolu said. “So for future generations to come, we won’t have to experience anything like this.”

–LISA EVERS

FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

NUPOL KIAZOLU, Activist, Student, and President, Black Lives Matter NY Youth Coalition https://twitter.com/nupol_justice

JUMAANE WILLIAMS, City Council Member https://twitter.com/JumaaneWilliams

JERMEL HOWARD, Actor https://twitter.com/JermelHoward

ERIC ADAMS, Brooklyn Borough President and former NYPD Captain https://twitter.com/BPEricAdams