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Bringing Hip Hop Back to the Center of Hip Hop Caucus 

Hip Hop Caucus



Since its founding in 2004, Hip Hop Caucus has grown a dynamic campaign using cultural expression to empower communities who are first and most impacted by injustice. From its first official event at Howard University to the present, the organization has centered Black and brown people’s voices, stories and actions to connect the hip hop community and artists and creators to the political process. Because of the work it had already done, Hip Hop Caucus had a powerful story to tell about how it leverages hip hop as a creative vehicle for building community and moving people to action. As the 50th anniversary of hip hop approached in 2023, Hip Hop Caucus partnered with Spitfire as a strategic communications partner to amplify its media relations efforts. As part of this work, Spitfire developed a comprehensive communications strategy, including an organizational narrative, and pitched key events and opinion pieces. 

A snippet from the narrative:

If as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “a riot is the language of the unheard,” then hip hop is its soundtrack.

Hip Hop Caucus is a direct descendant of those two lineages — a freedom movement born out of struggle and a cultural movement amplified by a desire for creative expression. In our body beats the heart of the freedom fighter building the political power to set people of color free and in our veins flows the blood of rappers using words, sound and creativity to remake the world in their own image. 

Spitfire led strategy sessions with Hip Hop Caucus staff members to identify key priorities and objectives for their communications work while also showcasing the wider breadth of the caucus’ unique advocacy approach. These priorities included bringing hip hop back to the center of Hip Hop Caucus’ work; demonstrating that Black and brown communities are central to the fight for climate justice, economic justice and democracy; and raising Hip Hop Caucus’ profile as a thought leader and political powerbuilder for racial justice. 
Stop cop city

The communications strategy included current assets and challenges, along with a core narrative that demonstrates how hip hop is a creative force that can be used to combat and dismantle structural racism and other forms of oppression. Spitfire also outlined core audiences, key messages, messengers and creative tactics designed to generate earned media. 

As part of our earned media outreach, Spitfire identified core publications for proactive and ongoing relationship building, including youth-focused publications, music-focused publications, racial justice and more progressive-leaning outlets, and climate and environmental justice outlets. 

Spitfire supported pitching efforts and background research for media outreach by identifying reporters covering Hip Hop Caucus’ main issues, creating targeted media lists, drafting pitch notes and pitching opinion pieces. Spitfire and Hip Hop Caucus pitched key events related to the 50th anniversary of hip hop, New York Climate Week, Cop City, the launch of the “Death in Custody” podcast, and the new season of “The Coolest Season” podcast. Spitfire also pitched key leaders in the organization as thought leaders on voting rights and climate advocacy for various media engagement efforts alongside the Hip Hop Caucus team. 

Spitfire also developed an introductory two-pager outlining the various components of Hip Hop Caucus’ work. The two-pager included an overview on how the caucus uses hip hop culture to enact social and political change as well as current focus areas: strengthening democracy, climate change and environmental justice, civil and human rights, and economic justice. The organization now uses the two-pager as a way to introduce itself to new audiences at community forums, music festivals and other events. 

Spitfire generated a collection of creative ideas for Hip Hop Caucus to drive change, engage youth and other priority audiences, and raise its organizational profile. The ideas included a Hip Hop Bill of Rights, with inspiration taken from the U.S. Bill of Rights — to be crowdsourced with input from supporters, stakeholders, community activists and artists — and a Hip Hop Creative Council composed of artists, storytellers and influencers to produce creative projects to engage fans of hip hop who may not see a role for themselves in the fight for racial justice. The goals and audiences featured in the deck aligned with those of Hip Hop Caucus’ larger communications efforts. These are ideas that Hip Hop Caucus can build upon and hopefully implement in the future.

Spitfire services employed

Communication planning and execution

Media relations / media strategy


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Issues Covered

Climate and Environment

Racial justice