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Detroit reborn through hip hop and hard work

Yusef Bunchy Shakur STEVE FURAY PHOTO

Yusef Bunchy Shakur

By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — The Rebirth Experience concert and community activist event is scheduled to bring light and energy to Detroit through a weekend of hip hop music and hard work. The event will take place beginning the evening of Aug. 30, leading up to the main event concert featuring the group dead prez Aug. 31.

The event was organized by community activists Yusef Bunchy Shakur and Greg “GMAC” McKenzie of The Urban Network. The event was created with the concept of rebirth in mind to give hope, love and vitality to the people during the city’s current hard times.

“The concept was looking at us being born as human beings, being born as Detroiters, but being reborn in that capacity of fighting against the financial manager, the colonial oppression,” says Shakur.

The Rebirth Concert, beginning Aug. 31 at 8 p.m., will be held on the city’s west side at the Redford Theater, located at 17360 Lahser. In addition to hip hop revolutionaries dead prez, the show will also feature local hip hop artists Invincible, Seven The General, Mama Sol, Money Wellz and GMAC. African dance and drum will accompany the acts.

“(Dead prez) represents those elements of resistance, of education, being involved and using the music for the actual work,” said Shakur. “It’s a holistic approach, a lot of time we just deal with the culture from the music, very few of us are able to connect.”

On Aug. 30 from 7-10 p.m., a panel discussion will be held at Alkebu-Ian Village, located at 7701 Harper Ave. on the east side of Detroit. The discussion will be on the topic of the city’s rebirth and how hip hop music can rise up to a higher standard and be used to engage the community.

The morning of Aug. 31, people are invited to participate in planting and picking in the garden at D-Town Farm, 14027 West Outer Dr. in Detroit. Dead prez will appear to discuss the value of hard work and living a healthy lifestyle.

At 1 p.m., the People’s Survival Program will be at 2413 Ferry Park to clean out an abandoned home and to distribute food to those in need, coordinated by Shakur’s organization Da Bottom Up, Inc.

“Any change has to start from the bottom up,” says Shaker. “In Detroit, we see too much of the top-down approach. We’re living in an oppressed society, and that’s always the elements that they want to impose upon us through the mainstream media.”

Utilizing hip hop as a culture is proving to be an increasingly effective way to engage young men and women to participate in positive social change. The music, artistic engagement and knowledge sharing is designed to reach people on their level.

“We’re bucking the system,” says Shakur. “In a sense of creating an underground economy, an underground form of communication, an underground form of organizing the people, meeting them where they’re at to build and boost our spirits, understanding that the value of their life is more important than what the media, (Gov.) Snyder, (Mayor) Bing or these puppets are trying to tell them.

“True power lies in the people.”

For more information, call Greg McKenzie at 313.310.2549 or Yusef Bunchy Shakur at 313.459.6008, or visit

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