‘We Are Art’ rap cypher spotlights Roanoke’s Black talent and culture

Seven rappers embrace Black culture in the Star City in Roanoke’s latest art project

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke is celebrating Black History through hip hop.

From the rappers to the video and music production, the “We Are Art” rap cypher brings together Black talent from the area to share a powerful message.

With lyrics like, “Acting hard is an ugly façade. We need love in the forefront, not just in the market or the storefront,” the idea is to show Roanoke is for everyone.

The video was filmed at the Grandin Theatre and features seven local rappers, each of them writing a verse saluting Black art, culture and accomplishments.

Artists include Kahlil Alexander, Eboni Harrington, Dylan Dent, Dionte Hall, Rich Miller, Tyler Langhorn and Laquisha Moore.

The verses were recorded at the Roanoke Public Libraries Melrose Avenue branch.

Roanoke Arts Commission and Feeding Southwest Virginia Community Solutions Center were also part of this project.

Macklyn Mosley, community services assistant at Roanoke Public Libraries and a member of the arts commission, was the project’s creative director. He said there is significance in choosing hip hop.

“Hip hop is sometimes being looked at as negative when in reality there’s a lot of positive hip hop. There’s a lot of hip hop out there. Hip hop even began with getting a message across and this is the same thing we wanted to do with this,” said Mosely.

The hook includes all seven artists reciting, “We are art. Our skin, our hair, our eyes, our smiles, our lives. We thrive, we grow, we love… we love”.

Throughout the film, shot by SnapKracklePop Photography, you’ll see books illustrated by Roanoke native, Theodore Taylor III and artwork by Antoinette Hale from Roanoke’s public art collection. They’re used as examples of the arts and gifts Black people bring to the area.

For the library, Mosely said there was no question on whether to get involved in this.

“Breaking down some of the walls of the library is only for books you know, no a library is a community, we’re a community hub, we’re a community center that brings in all sorts of things for all sorts of people and so this is no different,” said Mosely.

The film debuts Friday, Feb. 5 at 10 a.m. You can watch it on Youtube here or the Roanoke Public Libraries Facebook page.

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