The Illipsis: 3 lessons from hip-hop history every activist should know


We’re just one day away from the launch of RiseUp!, Fusion’s ambitious new summit celebrating youth activism around the world, so it seems as good a time as any to announce our new bimonthly video series, The Illipsis, written, starring and produced by DJ, video essayist and cultural critic Jay Smooth.

In this first episode, Jay deconstructs the history of hip-hop to illuminate how young activists can continue challenging and reshaping the status quo today. “Every critique young people get about their activism right now is what we got about our music and culture back then,” he says. “When a whole bunch of people who never cared what you were doing suddenly notice the work you are doing enough to want tell you you aren’t doing it right, that means you’re probably doing something right.”

Jay Smooth is the host and founder of New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show, WBAI’s Underground Railroad, airing since 1991 and recently cited by Chuck D as home to “the best hip-hop conversations.” In 2007 Jay began his award-winning video commentary series at, which has been highlighted on NPR, CNN and MSNBC, where Rachel Maddow hailed Jay as a “genius.”

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