There are a lot of adjectives to describe hip-hop artists and their music, but good Samaritans or friends in a time of need probably wouldn't be the first ones to come to mind.
But that is exactly how producers and rappers Rob Jackson, Da'mon "Jup" Norris and Willis "Deacon the Villain" Polk should be described.
The three local artists were so touched by the needs left by the March 2 tornadoes that tore through parts of Kentucky, they used their scheduled studio session at Saint Claire Recording Co. in Lexington to hammer out Alright, a song of hope, with friends.
The storms seemed to divide as they approached Lexington that night, sparing the city, which allowed the artists to perform at a local night club as scheduled on March 3, Jackson said.
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"It spared our show, but we saw the devastation and damage and thought it was necessary to do something for the rebuilding of our community," he said.
Since they already had reserved the studio for a retreat, they decided to do what they do best and record a song with proceeds going to help the rebuilding efforts.
"That's what we have to offer," Jackson said.
For 48 straight hours and with help from several other musicians, the rappers created Alright. The song is available for download on iTunes. Proceeds will go to the Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross.
"In the five years I've worked in fund-raising, this is the first time I've been in a collaboration like this," said Winn Stephens, director of development at the local Red Cross.
"They contacted us," he said. "They had created this song and wanted to make it an uplifting way of providing hope and encouragement for those impacted by the tornado."
The fast turnaround, from idea to recording, was due to the commitment of the people involved. And, Stephens said, all those involved are from Lexington, which has a great deal of talent.
Some of that local talent helped with the project. Polk and Garnett "Natti" Bush, another contributor, are on tour in Europe, and J ackson has worked with Arista Records and performed on BET.
"We relied on that combined experience," Jackson said. "We do music of all ranges, for all ages. Our music is inspired by the moment."
Composing and producing the song were the easy parts, he said. The hard part was letting folks know that by downloading the song, they will be helping Kentuckians.
The money will go to replenish more than $3.4 million spent by the Red Cross during the critical days after the tornadoes, Stephens said. With proceeds from the record sales and other projects that are under way or planned, "I'm thinking we are getting pretty close," he said.
Although neither I nor Stephens is a big hip-hop fan, we both agreed Alright is very good. The poetry is on point from the rappers, and Courtney Campbell's vocals are magical. The music video, which shows the artists and production crew creating the tune, and footage of the destruction, is extremely moving and professional.
"We know the magnitude of the devastation and we know people have a heart to help those in disasters," said the Rev. Willis Polk, pastor of Imani Baptist Church and father of Deacon the Villain.
"We need to support these Kentucky-born rappers who paused just a moment to do something to aid those victims. I am proud of them for putting this together and how professional it is."
The video and song were released last week, and I, a very old woman whose favorite kind of music isn't being made anymore, highly recommend both. It will change your idea of that music genre.
"That is part of the reason why we did it," Jackson said. "We are sons and daughters of Kentucky, upstanding citizens. It was an opportunity to show who we actually are and what we are capable of.
"Our music isn't for everybody, but that doesn't mean we aren't for everybody. We were sympathetic for what happened, even though our neighbors may not look like us."