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For every child, end AIDS

Young hip-hop artist raps for children and against AIDS

© UNICEF video
Young rapper MAGZ, a.k.a. Shelvin Francis, performing in the video of ‘People Are You Listening?’ The video was one of the highlights at the launch of the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign at UN headquarters on 25 October.

By Bob Coen

NEW YORK, USA, 9 November 2005 – At first glance 18-year-old MAGZ appears to be just like any other up-and-coming young artist on the hip-hop music scene. But his latest song – ‘People Are You Listening?’ – has a serious message for the world’s children, which he delivers via the power of music, in an initiative with UNICEF.

The song is a call to action for young people and against AIDS, and was created in support of UNICEF’s global UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign. “Hip-hop music is one of the best ways to spread the word, because kids all around the world are into hip-hop,” says MAGZ, a.k.a. Shelvin Francis.

The music video of ‘People Are You Listening?’ was one of the highlights of the campaign launch event at UN headquarters on 25 October. At the launch, MAGZ, a high school senior, met with UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and with celebrities like UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Roger Moore. But it was meeting other young people from around the world who are affected by HIV/AIDS that moved him the most.

© UNICEF video
MAGZ says hip-hop music is one of the best ways to spread the word on HIV/AIDS: “Kids all around the world are into hip-hop.”

“It was touching to hear their stories,” said the young artist. “I’m really proud to be part of this.”

Like so many others, MAGZ’s life has been touched by the global AIDS pandemic. Several years ago his favourite school crossing guard in the Brooklyn neighbourhood he lives in succumbed after months of fighting the illness. She is remembered in ‘Too Much’, MAGZ’s second song about HIV/AIDS, to be released by UNICEF in December.

Engaging young minds

UNICEF is making both songs and accompanying videos available to broadcasters around the world. They will also soon be available as cell phone ringtones, which will be downloadable at the UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS web site.

MAGZ’s dream is to tour high schools around the United States and in other countries, together with the young people living with HIV he met at the campaign launch – performing the songs live and then engaging the students in discussions about HIV/AIDS.

“That’s where it’s happening and those are the kids that are most at risk and really need to hear the message,” he says.

MAGZ is helping spread the word in this important global campaign – speaking from the heart to young people in a language they can understand.



Music video

MAGZ performs his hip-hop song, ‘People Are You Listening?’

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(Real player)

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