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At a glance: United States of America

AIDS awareness songs kick-off hip-hop tour of US public schools

© UNICEF video
On World AIDS Day, rap artist MAGZ performs to students at Martin Luther King High School in New York – the start of his nationwide AIDS Awareness Public School Hip-Hop Tour.

By Rachel Bonham-Carter

NEW YORK, USA, 1 December 2006 – Students at Martin Luther King High School in New York had time out of class today for an AIDS awareness lesson hip-hop style, thanks to rapper MAGZ. The 20-year-old hip-hop artist visited the school on World AIDS Day at the start of his AIDS Awareness Public School Hip-Hop Tour.

MAGZ’s performance began with two songs about AIDS. The first, ‘People Are You Listening?’ was written in collaboration with UNICEF for the launch of the UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS global campaign in 2005. The second, ‘Too Much’, was a response to the AIDS-related death of a school crossing guard in Brooklyn.

“AIDS is just growing so big,” MAGZ said after the show, “and I’m thinking if I do a song about AIDS and it goes through the hip-hop wave line and everybody hears it, they’ll think about it and act different when it comes time.”

‘He got the crowd hyped’

MAGZ, a.k.a. Shelvin Francis, has been planning his AIDS awareness tour of US schools since ‘People Are You Listening?’ and its accompanying video were played at the United Nations last year. After seeing it there, MTV President Bill Prodie said, “This is the type of message the kids around the world really need.”

“I think it was great,” enthused Martin Luther King student Wendy, 16. “I like the performance, how he sang and expressed the issue about AIDS through music. I think that’s a really good idea.”

MAGZ was joined onstage by artists DJ Poun’ and Jamelia while students performed dance routines to the cheers of their classmates. “It was good. He’s a good artist, a good poet,” said Brendan, 19, at the end of the show. “He got the crowd hyped. It was awesome.”

Diggidan, president of SoundScopemusic.com, the recording label that represents MAGZ, said the nationwide tour is planned to run through 2007.




1 December 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Rachel Bonham-Carter reports on the AIDS awareness concert by hip-hop artist MAGZ at Martin Luther King High School in New York.
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