Literacy within the African-American community remains a critical issue in the 21st century, especially in urban areas like New Orleans. According to Rachel B. Nicolosi, executive director for the Literacy Alliance of Greater New Orleans, nearly 100,000 individuals from New Orleans experienced delayed assistance because they could not read important documents. Brandan “Bmike” Odums enlisted the help of his organization, 2-cent Entertainment, to create a hip-hop video to address the issue of illiteracy in the New Orleans.

“We understood early on that creating an appetite for literacy amongst youth would directly improve their opportunities in the future,” Odums told the Grio. “We needed to find a way to create this appetite for literacy in the youth and we understood the important role hip hop and rap played in the shaping of young minds.”

Odums, who currently works as a 2025 Game Changer Fellow in the city, created a video parody of Lil Wayne’s “Every girl” song in order to make the idea of reading appealing to school age children. Donations from a major text book publisher helped Odums and his organization to grant a school n New Orleans with an assortment of new books.

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    I am somewhat shocked at the negative commentary, I applaud the efforts. We often forget hip-hop is no longer marginalized by the African American community, it is a global art that has helped empower and transform our world. By any means of encouraging our students to read is powerful. When analyzing the nation’s curriculum of what we consider superior or more rigorous in content, I often ask where can our children see themselves, how do we expect them to invest in literature that does not acknowledge their culture, and contributions. Hip hop provides our students with voices, it empowers them to use their words and critical asses the world. This pathway can lead to the interest of selecting other culturally fused types of expression and knowledge formation; for hip hop multifaceted and complex in nature. Hooking our students with an art form that they identify with is powerful.