STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

Grand Rapids hip hop artists come together to help kids living in the "Age of Deception"

Dustin Dwyer

Grand Rapids endured a surge of violent crime involving teenagers this winter. Since then, there have been community meetings and plans put forward. Now, a group of local hip hop artists is getting involved, with a new song targeted at kids. They let me sit in on their first writing session. Click above to hear their thoughts on the song. 

Here are a few quotes from the artists: 

Ken Dill

"It's hard to escape the violence when you come up in the community that we come in because you might have a mom and dad that's doing drugs, or that's not really there. You might be raising yourself."

Antonio Gaston (Tonio SoFly)

I'm happy we can give a change of direction as far as the hip hop music that we listen to nowadays. A lot of stuff is promoting violence ... You got rappers that, you know, they'll tell you straight to your face, 'I don't do none of this stuff.' But in the video they portray it. And it's all an illusion."

Antoine Gaston (GovZilla)

To rescue our youth before they're tainted, that's a hell of a thing ... That's a heavyweight fight, man, and we're lightweights. But I'm up for a fight.

"Age of a Deception" is being released as part of the STOP ITcampaign in Grand Rapids, in collaboration with the Grand Rapids Hip Hop Coalition

Dustin Dwyer is a reporter on the State of Opportunity project, based in Grand Rapids. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.