Alisha Sweatt, a senior at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina is on a mission to spread knowledge of hip-hop. Ever since she was a child, she always knew that hip-hop would be a huge part of her life. Unfortunately in 2005, Alisha’s father passed away. During the difficult time, Alisha, more than ever felt more connected with hip-hop. Not only is Sweatt passion-driven but, success just comes naturally to her because of who she as a woman. At the beginning of the year, Alisha made it her goal to live her life unapologetically and because of that she has been able to put her love for hip-hop into action. Hip Hop Makes Me Feel is an organization that teaches the youth the impact hip-hop has made on the world.
How did the idea for Hip Hop Makes Me Feel come about?
The idea was started with just posting music videos on Instagram that made me feel some type of way. Whether it was the lyrics or the image of the actual video, I would share any feelings that were provoked. This gave people a chance to share what they felt about it as well. It was an overwhelming amount of response. I honestly didn’t even think people would like it. I put on my first event at Winthrop. I played a few music videos and we discussed how it made us feel, what hip hop is, and the history of hip hop. I really just winged it but it’s easier to accomplish things when you have support.
What is the main goal you hope to achieve through the organization?
My ultimate goal is to spread the positive image of hip hop. If I could get everyone in the world to understand that hip hop is a positive thing, it would be the most amazing thing ever.
Can you tell us about the different programs Hip Hop Makes Me Feel has to offer?
I have different programs that I offer but one of my favorites is “Minds Playing Tricks.” It’s about rappers that struggle with mental health and exposes the awareness in hip-hop. Rappers have talked about mental health, whether it’s thoughts of shooting themselves or drug use. We often don’t pay attention to that, we just look over that and listen to the beat. They could have a fire beat but talk about suicide… Hip-hop artists are primarily African-American. Hip-Hop can actually be a way for people to confront their feelings and make them feel comfortable about it too. Another one we just added is, “Political Rap: The Game Changer” it’s actually based on a book called, “Pulse of the People.” Back in the day, it was a big deal when the book came out because police wanted to censor all of N.W.A’s music. But that’s what hip-hop is, it’s about provoking those feelings and actually educate people on their rights.
Who are some hip-hop artists right now that you believe have helped shaped the industry?
The first name that popped up and this may sound crazy is, Migos. It’s so weird but for one, they’re really popular. They’re changing whats in the now kind of. They’re exposing rap by making it really popular. I also believe that they’re changing their lifestyle. I say this because they’re more professional than how they were and they did it by understanding the industry. I would also say Jay-Z because he is changing the face of hip-hop by supporting the artists he does. Same with Gucci. The amount of faith Jay-Z has in hip-hop is really inspiring also. He’s my favorite artist so that may be bias (laughs)
How can our readers donate and connect with you?
They can be sure to visit the website, all of the programs are listed there. There are t-shirts available on there as well, each merchandise purchased is donated to the program. There is a direct page on there where you can donate also. We want to be able to visit elementary schools, help students make their own beats, write music, and more so every bit helps.
All images provided by Alisha Sweatt