Raquel Delgado is Director of Communications for Generation Hip Hop and Operations Manager of Hip Hop Spain.
For Universal Hip Hop Museum, and frankly, the world, Raquel leads a global team of pioneers, artists, educators, and intellectuals who work together and exchange knowledge and experience to educate, empower, and support youth and disenfranchised communities around the world via the powerful global culture of Hip Hop.
Hip Hop is more than music. Obviously.
It’s a culture, a style, a movement.
And just how deep and rich a movement it is has only recently been explored.
In 2014, Christopher Hooton, Culture Editor for the UK’s Independent, wrote about Cambridge University neuroscientist Prof. Becky Inkster and her social venture Hip Hop Psych. Why? Our genre helps in the treatment of mental illness.
Prof. Inkster identified that song topics, such as drug abuse, poverty, and domestic violence, all of which can link to increases in psychiatric illness, came from the artists’ lives: “That makes [Hip Hop] an ideal medium for helping individuals understand their psychological problems and for finding ways to deal with them.”
Nearly three years ago, it was identified and reported that Hip Hop was (and is still) the most listened to music genre around the world. In a terrific article, Hooton discussed Spotify’s creation of a “musical map of the world” that measures listening trends, updating bi-weekly, in more than 1000 cities.
Hooton reported, “The most interesting finding however is that Hip Hop is the world’s top genre, showing up on playlists more than all others, regardless of geography or language.”
What the Universal Hip Hop Museum team – and you! – have felt for decades is true in life: Hip Hop is heard, felt, and when its messaging and truths are applied, things change for the better.
The Universal Hip Hop Museum is rooted in and exists for Hip Hop, its complexities, its artists, and its audiences. It is dedicated to where and how it all began through what can happen in the future. Key to this are young people around the world. Leading the charge for our commitment to global youth is Raquel Delgado, Director of Communications for Generation Hip Hop (GHH).
Raquel is the Director of Hip Hop Spain, an artist, a poet, and a Reiki master. She lives in Barcelona. 17 years ago, she began to research Spanglish as a symbol of identity and Chicano culture. In the context of this article and what Raquel refers to in this piece, Chicano and Chicana mean an identity, not where someone is from geographically (which is what Chicano generally means in US parlance). Chicano means pride in one’s heritage, indigenous roots, culture, traditions, and art.
From her study of Spanglish, she saw how the application of different artistic disciplines – poetry, spoken word, painting, muralism, graffiti, rap – expressed heritage, one’s reality, and the struggle to defend civil rights.
With Professor José Luis Quintero, Raquel produced a conference on Chicano culture in 2006 and 2008. Leaders in cinema, writing, and performance art who participated include Luis Valdés, Norma Elia Cantú, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Paul Espinosa, and Ilan Stavans. She has been invited to perform at festivals in Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. She was the first non-Chicana poet to perform at Flor y Canto, the Festival of Flower and Song, which began in 1973. It is a three-day literary festival for Chicano novelists, poets, and writers of short stories.
Like so much innovation in the arts, Raquel came to UHHM organically.
The seeds were planted first in Spain, and then in Chicago: “Self-taught in English, I traveled to the US to learn about Chicano art, because we don’t have Chicano studies in Spain. I was invited to perform at the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival in Chicago in 2009. This important event changed my path. While performing there I met the rapper Phillip Morris. When he came to Barcelona in 2012, I chose to talk with artists and institutions about producing a Hip Hop Festival. Since then I’ve organized various concerts and festivals.”
I asked Raquel about her artistic history and she continued her story, “As an artist I’ve been interested in Art Therapy for a long time. Pairing it with my studies in Kinesiology I believe that creativity is a powerful therapeutic tool.” While I agree 100%, I asked Raquel how. She replied, “[Creativity] helps you to know yourself better, to understand and accept your reality, to become determined to learn better ways to manage your life.”
Raquel applied these attributes of creativity while she taught Spanish to immigrants (to Barcelona) and taught English to unemployed people, some of whom were impoverished, all of whom were at risk. “Using music, the results were amazing: it’s not just that they learned to create phrases, they were motivated and happy every time they came to class. This inspired me to use Hip Hop in my work with young people. Hip Hop is a language they can understand and by which they can be motivated.”
Call it destiny, call it synchronicity, and when Raquel decided this – apply Hip Hop principles in her work with youth – she met UHHM co-founder Rocky Bucano and GHH Director of Strategic Partnerships Terence Barry. Not long after that, she became Generation Hip Hop’s Director of Communications. She presented to a packed audience in Spain this past fall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
We discussed youth, life, and Hip Hop. While every day in the United States is rife with news of violence and destruction powered by the unchanged philosophy and behaviors of a somewhat stuck nation, there are opportunities to find encouragement and empowerment. Raquel stated, “Today’s youth is disenfranchised by the state of the world. They feel that there are no opportunities, yet Generation Hip Hop brings opportunities: education, professional guidance, art being used as therapy. We can help a range of collectives including those facing mental health issues and drug addiction, immigrants, and refugees. We are doing this with all the elements of Rap, Graffiti, Deejaying, Breaking, and Hip Hop.”
She went on, passionately, and said, “I do believe that Hip Hop saves lives, and that’s why I care about Generation Hip Hop. Youth is our future, and we need to take care of every young person. We need to listen to all they have to say, identify their needs, and help them. Because by changing lives we can change the world. And I want a better world for future generations.”
Raquel’s commitment is underscored by GHH’s philosophy, which was created by GHH website director Dylan Fortune:
Emotion becomes expression.
Expression becomes action.
Action changes the world.
Breaking it down to brass tacks, GHH’s “mission is to create education programs, empower the youth, and uplift disenfranchised communities. We bring access to funding for those programs and humanitarian initiatives, using technology to bring the same opportunities to all countries. Our goal is to harness the progressive talent of otherwise disenfranchised youth into a collective, dynamic, and productive international group.”
With managers in 50 countries and growing all the time, brands and academics that understand the magnitude of this global organization are becoming interested in GHH.
So how is Peace, Love, and Unity, the universal message of Hip Hop, literally driving our efforts to work with young people? Its core tenets are real world experience, education, community, and commerce. All members of Generation Hip Hop have profound experience using the elements of Hip Hop to work with youth.
Generation Hip Hop is doing a range of things around the world:
Silas Babaluku, Director of GHH Africa, founded The Bavubuka Foundation, a nonprofit organization that connects youth with music and the arts to transform lives and unify diverse communities
Roderick Roachford, aka Chip Fu, and members of the MAATH Team.
GHH USA Manager Roderick Roachford (known to his fans and followers as Chip Fu) created the MAATH Educational Program, which you can see herehow it empowers and educates.
From left to right, GHH Cuba Director Yosmel Sarrias (aka Sekou), Director of Communications in Latin America and GHH Venezuela Director Clara Guilarte (aka Apolonia), and GHH Venezuela team members and program participants of HipHop en Movimiento.
GHH Cuba Director Yosmel Sarrías (who you’ll see on stage as Sekou), Director of Communications in Latin America and GHH Venezuela Director Clara Guilarte (performing as Apolonia), and GHH Venezuela team members Omar Avila, Wilbert Escobar, Jennifer Florez, and Fredmar López developed HipHop en Movimiento, where, via Hip Hop, they join cultures and share knowledge to pursue the essence of self.
Esteban Marín, GHH Spain, co-founder of Contorno Urbano Fundación with program participants.
Contorno Urbano Fundación, founded by GHH Spain members Esteban Marín and Ninoska Juan Alvarez, is a non-profit organization that studies, promotes, and conserves urban art while accelerating it in society via actions of urban creativity. Focusing on education, urban art, muralism, architecture, photography, and communication, it joins public space, art, and citizenship. Projects include community murals and work that adapts to the needs of space and people in integral and organic ways.
As Hip Hop in Spain continues to develop and grow, Raquel loves global artists, albums, and songs that are both classic and current. Her lengthy list of favorite performers include Gang Starr, Rakim, Big L, Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, Run-DMC, A Tribe called Quest, LL Cool J, N.W.A., Kid Frost, Common, Mc Lyte, Lauryn Hill, Foxy Brown, Bahamadia, Epidemic, A.F.R.O., Evidence, Gavlyn, Vinnie Paz, Falsa Alarma, Arianna Puello, Ana Tijoux, Canserbero, Rxnde Akozta, M. Padrón, Lauren Nine, and MC Kea.
For Raquel, the producers that change(d) the game are DJ Premier, Apollo Brown, NO I.D., Large Professor, J.Dilla, and Superior. I asked her to tell me her favorite albums and she dug deep to identify a few from “40 years of great music!” – Grandeur by Apollo Brown, G.O.A.T. by LL Cool J, The Score by The Fugees, Monochrome Skies by Epidemic, The Big Picture by Big L, The 18thLetter by Rakim, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, La Misiva by Falsa Alarma, Sobre los márgenes by Sharif, Vida by Canserbero, Despierta by Arianna Puello, and Hip Hop Forever, a compilation by Kenny Dope.
Her choice songs display how Hip Hop crosses generations, cultures, and countries to provide sounds and tell stories: Rakim’s “When I B on the Mic,” “Put It On” by Big L, “Skills by Gang Starr, “How to kill God” by Apollo Brown & Ras Kass, “You Got Me” (one of my personal favorites) by The Roots feat. Erykah Badu, “Pensando en ti” by Canserbero, “100 frases” by Sharif, “Somos Sur” by Ana Tijoux feat. Shadia Mansour.
Raquel’s dedication to GHH is clear: “It is the project of my life and what I care about and love – education, youth, art, Hip Hop, social work – is part of everything I’m doing with an amazing global team. They help me to learn every day, to improve as a professional, and grow as a person. It is important to know other realities, to learn from other cultures. Generation Hip Hop provides those opportunities. As an active person, I need to feel that I am in a process of constant evolution. Working with such a professional team is a dream come true.”
Well said, Raquel. Thank you for being one of the leaders of Generation Hip Hop.
Connect with Generation Hip Hop in your country and learn how you can assist the teams.
Written by Kate Harvie for UHHM Newsletter. Subscribe here.