#AaronSwartz: RapGenius Editors’ Pick, HNHH Song of the Week
On July 1, 2013, the iconic Source Magazine World Premiered AWKWORD‘s “#AaronSwartz”, a personal, poignant suicide PSA in honor of Reddit founder Aaron Swartz, as well as Capital Steez, Freddy E, Harold Hunter and AWKWORD’s childhood friend Jesse, sponsored by Grassroots Suicide Prevention, produced by Steel Tipped Dove and featuring seven-time Grammy nominee L*A*W on guitar and vocals.
The song was also premiered by MTV as track 13 on producer Steel Tipped Dove‘s & a whole bunch of a crazy motherfuckers project, also featuring Chippy Nonstop, Big Baby Gandhi, YC The Cynic, Kool AD, Open Mike Eagle and Lakutis.
“#AaronSwartz” has received the following accolades:
2. RapGenius Editors’ Pick
4. RapReviews Hip Hop Shop #227
The song has also been featured and raved about by 2DopeBoyz, TheBoomBox, Boi-1da.net, Illuminati 2G, Rock The Dub, OK-Tho, UGHHblog.com and more.
[See below for the free song stream/download; the lyrics, decoded, with an exclusive video explanation from AWKWORD; and select reviews and honorable mentions from around the Web.]
FREE STREAM + DOWNLOAD
NAME YOUR PRICE 100%-CHARITY PURCHASE
All proceeds go to Guns 4 Cameras, a 501c3 nonprofit that goes beyond the gun exchange, working to eradicate street violence through the Hip Hop-inspired education and empowerment of our at-risk youth.
LYRICS + VIDEO
This is a amazing track and it’s good to hear/see artists actually addressing issues… I will let AWKWORD get this one! Listen to the track.
Mental health is the elephant in the room of hip-hop that very few people want to acknowledge. When someone commits suicide, we take a moment to mourn for the deceased, but far too often, we allow the tragedy to occur in front of our eyes and try to pick up the pieces instead of being proactive in prevention.
Rapper AWKWORD broaches the seldom addressed topic of mental health in his latest song ‘#AaronSwartz,’ named after Aaron Swartz, the late Internet activist and programmer.
The last six months have seen the loss of two up and coming rappers to suicide. Seattle rapper Freddy E shot himself in early January. He was 22. On Christmas Eve, Capital Steez of Pro Era also killed himself. He was just 19-years old.
The rap game’s competitive spirit can be cannibalistic. “Here today, gone tomorrow” isn’t just a phrase, it’s a mantra that dictates career trajectories for everyone except a select handful of artists. Outside of the stars, money and the opportunity to make money is scarce. Competition can inspire better music, but it also can cut down the dreams of younger artists before they can be realized.
For fans, hip-hop can be a form of therapy. Music has the power to relax us and clear the mind. Message has been an important part of hip-hop from its early beginnings, but a lot of times this has only gone into the realm of addressing societal disparity. With mental health a growing concern worldwide, it is important that emcees take on the challenge of tackling the issue.
One of the first hip-hop platforms to address the issue of mental health was Soul Culture, which is in the midst of their “OK Not To Be OK” campaign. In this interview series, Soul Culture has talked to artists ranging from J. Cole toJanelle Monae about the issue of depression. A very personal issue for site founder Mars Gosho Oakes, the series also contains self-help tips on how to cope with the symptoms of depression.
New York rapper AWKWORD is also not afraid to back down from the issue of suicide prevention. He has released a new song called “#AaronSwartz,” an homage to Swartz, who committed suicide at age 26. AWKWORD spits bars of motivation over a beat from Steel Tipped Dove, with a powerful hook from L*A*W capping it off. The song shouts out the late Capital Steez and Freddy E, but also gets personal, with AWKWORD talking about his own friends who took their lives.
Listen to “#AaronSwartz” below. Hopefully initiatives like these will open up the dialogue about what it means to battle depression, to prevent the premature loss of more brilliant minds.
AWKWORD is no stranger to this blog. He’s a friend of mine, and someone that I admire for his philanthropy and work ethic. It’s no bullshit when I say that every track I’ve heard from him is quality musically, and makes a statement on a humane level. With this latest track AWKWORD addresses the injustices that hacktivist Aaron Swartz faced that led to his suicide this past January. “#AaronSwartz” is an open letter to anyone considering the drastic measures of taking their own life. I think the stakes were a little bit higher and the measures a bit more extreme in Mr. Swartz case, but the message stands. AWKWORD reassures his listeners that it gets better, the sun always rises in the morning. This track is a welcome addition to the progressive body of work AWKWORD is building. Be on the lookout for his forthcoming, 100% for-charity, tape ‘World View’ due out soon. Keep up the good work my friend, it’s always a pleasure to write on your music.
Suicide is a huge issue that occurs daily all over the world–it knows no race, sexuality, religion, age, or gender. For example, if you picked up our 2nd magazine issue, I made note of the suicide rate in South Korea amongst the youth (in 2011, South Korea ranked the 2nd highest country in suicides in the world). According to the CDC‘s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, since 2010 suicide rates have surpassed fatalities from car crashes in the United States–with a number of 38,364 deaths vs 33,687, respectively. Suicide is one of those controversial topics that nobody, or hardly anyone, wants to discuss. The hip hop community has seen its fair share of mental health issues and suicide deaths, too.
AWKWORD‘s latest song “Aaron Swartz” is an emotionally deep and introspective suicide PSA rap, produced by Steel Tipped Dove and features L*A*W singing on the hook. Awkword touches base on friends who’ve died through suicide, as well as Capital Steez, Freddy E, and Aaron Swartz. Aaron was the founder behind Reddit, who was targeted, arrested, prosecuted, and harassed by the government for association with Wikileaks and seeking freedom of information. He was found dead at 26, in his Brooklyn apartment having hanged himself.
“Though the times is hard // And your soul is scarred // All you see is, rainy days // Still don’t throw your life away”
The song is sponsored by Grassroots Suicide Prevention, and will appear on AWKWORD‘s 100% for-charity global hip hop project, World View. When you purchase the song via Bandcamp, all proceeds will go towards the World View charity Guns 4 Cameras, a nonprofit charity that works to eradicate street violence through hip hop inspired education and empowerment of at-risk youth. Listen, purchase, and donate towards a good cause.
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