New York-based rapper Cappadonna visited Highland Heights to speak about leadership in hip-hop and his experience as a member of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan Tuesday evening in the Student Union.
The lecture consisted of a history lesson on hip-hop, as well as guidelines for leadership, maturity and how to evolve with the ever-changing popular culture.
Cappadonna started his lecture with details about how he, and other members of Wu-Tang, grew up together and how they struggled and hustled “with no direction.”
“We had to fend for ourselves,” Cappadonna said. “Just to keep the burden off of our single parent, or whoever raised us.”
He said the group members joined together, at ages as early as 15, because there is strength in numbers.
“It was something for us to do to get out of that struggle,” he said. “We didn’t know the business aspect of it and we didn’t get paid at first, but we kept fighting.”
When it comes to leadership, Cappadonna said his role is to shape and mold hip-hop to present it to the next generation.
“My duty is to inform everybody that there’s no community without that unity,” he said. “My responsibility is to give you the bare truth and facts about what’s going on in hip-hop today.”
He said he is not a bookworm, but a realist, and that most of his knowledge comes from common sense and life experiences.
“I didn’t get the opportunity to be blessed with a college education, but I’m still here in your college and speaking to you,” he said.
Cappadonna said he spoke to a student before the event, who said school is getting in the way of his dreams to get into the hip-hop game. He replied to the student by saying that school is the basic foundation to success.
“You gotta have something to fall back on,” Cappadonna said. “Hip-hop is really trendy at times and it can change in the blink of an eye.”
He also gave advice to students, who are aspiring artists, about the business side of hip-hop.
“Keep doing what you are doing, but don’t quit your day job,” Cappadonna said. “You can go as hard as you want in music, but guess what? You still have to deal with corporate hip-hop and these guys don’t necessarily give a crap about what you’re rapping about. They want to make money. So it becomes a marketing process at that time.”
Cappadonna said corporate hip-hop funds the foolishness that can be seen in today’s newer artists in order to “deceive the masses and to be able to take more control over the game.”
“The more control that corporate gets, the more watered down and less real it becomes,” he said.
He said that doesn’t just go for hip-hop, but for real life too.
“Unless you’re trying to become an independent contractor, you’re going to be working for someone,” Cappadonna said.
Sophomore Jimmie Reynolds attended the event and said he learned to always know what’s right from wrong in his personal views, as a fan of hip-hop and as a fellow rapper.
“Just to always stay conscious and always keep my mind open to what’s truthful and what’s not,” Reynolds said.