Back With A Vengeance by Lady K

On Thursday, August 4th, Vic Mensa and Joey Purp had The Roxy turnt all the way UP! Los Angeles was the second-to-last stop on their 11 city “Back With A Vengeance” tour. Vic Mensa has been making hip hop headlines in 2016 and there’s good reason why. He’s passionate about the music he releases, but more importantly, the messages in each song.


We had a great team of volunteers who walked up and down the line of fans registered to vote or, if they were already registered, pledge to vote this November. Our team stationed at the voter registration table inside The Roxy, were personally thanked by Vic Mensa. As he was prepping for sound check, he came over to the table, and the first thing he said was that he wished we were on all the tour dates with him. Encouraging people to use their voting power is important to Vic, and it resonated throughout the show. Vic made a call to action in the middle of the show, asking his fans to vote this Fall. It was a powerful, memorable moment.

As we met with fans, there was a young lady in particular named Stephanie who made me realize something important: I helped her register to vote for her first eligible election…. EVER! She was so excited to register with us. The fact that the Hip Hop Caucus is going to help her (and many others we have registered this year) participate in their first voting experience, makes it that much more worthwhile to do the work we do. Because of us, she will have a voice through her vote!


There was another young man who had voted earlier this year while living in Chicago, but hadn’t had the chance to re-register in California so he could vote here in November. Because of our presence at the show, he was able to see an awesome concert AND re-register to vote in the state of California! Double win.

And, then there was Devon who was so appreciative to see us at the concert getting people engaged in the importance of voting. She said she had been waiting to see something like this at a show because it’s so necessary, especially with the upcoming election, to get as many Americans as we can to commit to their civic responsibilities.

Vic’s set was energetic, filled with passion AND purpose. He performed “16 Shots” twice (a song about the murder of Laquan McDonald’s), “U Mad” (who features the infamous Mr. Kanye West), “Free Love” (a song in support of the LGBTQ community and honoring those killed in the mass shooting in Orlando), and his crowd-favorite single “New Bae”. He also performed the self-titled EP track “There’s A Lot Going On” (release in collaboration with Roc Nation and Respect My Vote!). Just before he performed “Shades Of Blue” ( a song about the tragedy in Flint, Michigan) he gave a special shoutout to the Hip Hop Caucus and the Respect My Vote! Campaign. He told the crowd about what a major key it is to get out and vote: “This is a power that you HAVE to use ‘cause right now, we’re at the middle of a crossroads. It’s like, one decision as a nation could really lead to the end of everything. So, choose wisely.”

Vic stands out to me as an artist in today’s social media-driven society because he truly cares about the important issues we are facing. That’s exactly why we, the Hip Hop Caucus, knew he would be the PERFECT spokesperson for this year’s Respect My Vote! campaign.


It’s Time For A Black Lives Matter Electoral Revolution

The recent tragedies in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Texas and Louisiana now account for more than a third of the 31 police murders by gunfire in the U.S. this year.  Last year, there were 39 murders of police officers by gunfire, down from the previous year, as well as historically. In 2005 there were 53 murders of police by gunfire; in 1995 – 70 murders; in 1985 – 74 murders; and in 1975 – 143 murders. In other words, these recent years are the safest years in history to be a cop.

With a city in mourning, this might be the worst time to impose statistics and a tone of rationality. However, we need to be aware of the potential narrative that will try to bend problems associated with gun culture into a larger, movement unassociated to justify the inequity of the criminal justice system towards Black people.

This past May, Governor John Bel Edwards signed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill into law, making Louisiana the first state in the nation where public safety workers are considered a protected class under the hate-crime law. In many states, hate crime laws call for additional penalties for those convicted of crimes targeting victims on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion. Targeting police officers, firefighters and emergency medical service personnel now fall under Louisiana’s hate crime law.

“Blue Lives Matter” legislation is a distraction from the over-policing of Black and Brown people and wastes time focusing on a non-existent problem, instead of addressing the real problem of police bias and racial profiling. While the population of Baton Rouge is over 50% Black, two-thirds of the police department is White.  The police department has a history of mistreating its citizens.  So much so, that the Baton Rouge police department has been under a federal consent decree since 1980–and has had more than 30 years to improve its minority recruiting.  ‘Blue Lives ‘ Advocates argue criticizing the police fosters animosity towards law enforcement.

Doesn’t a killing of an unarmed Black person also foster animosity towards law enforcement?  The power and prevalence of smartphones and social media allow us to document and watch unarmed Black people die in real time.  Where is the support for “Black Lives Matter” legislation?  What laws protect the Alton Sterlings in Louisiana?
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers or quick fix solutions. What can we do now?

DEMAND President Obama issue an “Executive Order” that compels the Department of Justice to issue uniform police guidelines and standards that must be adhered to by police departments across the nation. This includes training, conduct, recruitment, use of lethal force, traffic stops, racial profiling, body cameras, and the prosecution of misconduct by police officers.

We can register to vote. We can vote. We can show up at the polls and elect officials who are committed to ending brutality by holding people accountable. Voting local matters. Join Hip Hop Caucus in the #RespectMyVote movement. #ElectoralRevolution

If you are living in Baton Rouge, you should know on November 8, 2016,  every East Baton Rouge city councilperson (all 12) are up for re-election.  Also the mayor, sheriff, one Senator and, two Congresspeople will be on the ballot. If you don’t live in Baton Rouge, register or pledge to vote for people who will act.  Do your research on each candidate and decide the immediate impact they will have once elected into office. Your vote matters!
And lastly, continue to keep your smartphones charged.

Document. Report. Ignite change. #RespectMyVote #StayWoke

Posted by: Lisa Fager, Director, Public Policy and Solutions

The data regarding police casualties presented in this blog was obtained from The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc., and analyzed by Dr. Ivory A. Toldson, for the Facebook Post, “An Honest Prayer for Baton Rouge, Louisiana.”

Introducing Charlamagne Tha God as the First Official 2016 Respect My Vote! Spokesperson

Charlamagne Tha God, is a national radio and television personality. He is a co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Breakfast Club with DJ Envy and Angela Yee and stars in MTV’s Guy Code and Girl Code, and is a VJ on The Week In Jams with DJ Envy and Sofi Green. And in 2015 Charlamagne began hosting the MTV2 show Uncommon Sense.

Charlamagne is known for his often edgy and outspoken personality and Respect My Vote! is excited to embrace his passion for truth and for being a voice for the people.

Past Respect My Vote! spokespeople have included 2 Chainz in 2012 and T.I. in 2008. Charlamagne, like T.I. and 2 Chainz, is someone with a felony record. Ex-offenders are able to vote in almost every state, and a major goal of Respect My Vote! is to end the myth that ex-offenders cannot vote. Charlamagne is not afraid to use the voice he has been blessed with. Millions appreciate his realness and authenticity. And we are excited about that dynamic which he is bringing to Respect My Vote! 2016.

Charlamagne Tha God is the first of many spokespeople who are joining Respect My Vote! for the biggest campaign yet. We look forward introducing artists, entertainers, athletes, and so many more, who support our community and are passionate about young voters exercising their right to be heard in our democracy.