Grammy winner Alicia Keys became the first major star to confirm she will be attending the Syracuse school district’s Hip-Hop Summit at the Carrier Dome March 10, local organizers said Tuesday.
Rapper Fabolous, meanwhile, is “99 percent certain” to be there, organizer Julius Edwards said. Other artists are expected to confirm over the next few days.
Meanwhile, Edwards said although the Dome event will be open only to Syracuse high school students, organizers are hoping to arrange an evening rally at the War Memorial for the larger community. The rally would stress voter registration and would include the same stars who will appear at the Dome that morning.
Other stars who have been invited are Ashanti, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. Doug E. Fresh and The Rev. Run already have confirmed they will attend. The stars will discuss issues on a panel rather than perform.
Similar events have been held in more than a dozen large cities in the past few years, but the Dome event will be the first held exclusively for high school students.
The other summits have brought high-profile hip-hop artists to communities to talk about the positive aspects of hip-hop and encourage young people to vote and get involved in their communities.
The events are sponsored by the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, which was created by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and former NAACP President Benjamin Chavis. Both Simmons and Chavis will be at the Syracuse summit.
Keys won five Grammys for her 2001 debut album, “Songs in A Minor.” Her follow-up, “The Diary of Alicia Keys,” debuted at No. 1 in December. Her music combines her classical piano training with jazz, R&B and hip-hop influences.
Fabolous got the biggest cheer when the invited artists’ names were announced during a student assembly Tuesday morning at Henninger High School. But his catchy songs are far more explicit than Keys’.
He released his latest disc, “More Street Dreams, Vol. II,” in November. That CD and “Street Dreams,” released in March, contain graphic lyrics focusing on sex, violence, cars and money.
Edwards and Akua Goodrich, another summit organizer, acknowledged that Fabolous’ lyrics do not contain positive messages for students, but they defended his inclusion.
“That’s who the young people are listening to,” she said. “There’s more to artists than their lyrics. These people have a passion for their communities.”
Edwards said part of the purpose of the summits is to make hip-hop performers accountable for their work. He said he expects some students will challenge Fabolous to put more positive messages in his songs.
“Who else is going to tell Fabolous, ‘Listen, you’re more than that,’ ?” he said.
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