There was a time in hip hop when an artist doing well in the music industry could not see anything past performing on records and stage. However, in the mid 90’s young enterprising entrepreneurs showed the world that hip hop is Big Business. Starting with Russell Simmons, Sean Combs, and Sean Carter making the transition from being music executives to fashion moguls was no easy task. Dre and Iovine became billionaires selling headphones. Kanye West’s Yeezy’s are more expensive and just as popular as Air Jordan’s. But transitioning from rap to politics is a little on the new side of things. Although we have had many rappers help politicians run for office…no one really ever decided to run for themselves. Well, a guy by the name of DoItAll Dupre’ Kelly from Newark New Jersey decided to change that narrative.
The City Council elect was once a member of a platinum selling rap group called the Lords of The Underground. In 1993, they had a number one song on the music charts entitled “Chief Rocka” produced by the Obi One of Hip Hop DJ Marley Marl. They came in on the very end of Hip Hop Golden Era.
In 2017-2018 DoItAll decided to run for City Council for the city of Newark and he had a little help from his Jersey hip hop friends such as Redman and Queen Latifah. My partner and CEO of SOHH Avian Drummonds secured an interview session while he was deep in the campaign trail back in the Fall of 2017, but I was going through my own life struggles during the winter and the time slot fell through. However, I’ve always lived by, what’s meant to be is meant to be, and sure enough by reaching out through IG we were able to reconnect.
The day before the election primaries, I saw DoItAll’s Instagram post, and low and behold, there was Michael Bivens of singing group New Edition & Bell Biv Devoe and Queen Latifah rallying up that last minute voter support. It was awesome to see the belief the entire community had in Kelly to make a move toward change for the youth in their city. On that particular evening, my eyes stayed glued to the internet and to Kelly’s IG timeline. The next day there were no posts for a while nor an update. He eventually put up a video stating that he was still optimistic for the future and the fight was not over. He didn’t win in the primaries.
I immediately DM’d Kelly and said some encouraging words and told him how proud I was of him. I also asked for a few minutes of his time to get his thoughts on how the campaign was ran and if he was satisfied with the outcome even though he didn’t win. He willingly agreed and hence this blog…so without further adieu …DoItAll Du is in the building!!!
SOHH: Thanks for joining us today Du. What I’m trying to accomplish today is, maybe explaining to the youth why the connection of Hip Hop and politics has to be a conversation now…
DIA: That was always a natural progression. When you talk about rappers for the longest time being a voice for the voiceless or a voice for the unheard, I just feel like Hip Hop has always been political. However, what’s different now is that we have to get a seat at the table. However, I have this conversation to where people will say, “Well let’s get our own table” and I don’t disagree, but as far as the minority, we live in a place that doesn’t belong to us neither do we control. Look throughout history, we’ve never had a true say-so as to how things were supposed to be, but they utilized our sweat to set up their infrastructure. But even now…they use hip hop aka our sweat to sell pop culture to the masses. So me running for office was for people that look like me to have a voice when it comes to making policy.
SOHH: So not to beat a dead horse because most people heard you talk about this on The Breakfast Club but you and 2Pac were real close and he encouraged you to run for office back in the day.
DIA: (takes a deep breath and a pause)….yeah man Pac was my guy. He was funny too man. Pac had a great sense of humor. When I first met him, I was at Shaw University in North Carolina and I wasn’t even in the Lords yet. This was before I had a record deal and Pac was touring as a dancer with Digital Underground. But I will say this, Pac been the same way when he wasn’t as famous, all the way until he got to be the icon he is. I think people would have gotten to see his real sense of community and leadership had he not passed before his time. But yeah that was a great man.
SOHH: So now we’re on the flipside of this election, do you feel your ties to hip hop, helped or hurt your chances of getting into office.
DIA: Ok I’ll say this…I gotta live my truth Layne. I am unapologetically HIP HOP! So no I can’t say it hurt me, but let’s break this thing down. Newark politics still have plenty of elders with power. Newark New Jersey is a city of 300,000 people and this guy you’re talking to has been doing things through Hip Hop for the city of Newark for over 20 something years. So if you complain about me now, and about my allegiance to Hip Hop and didn’t complain about me then, when I was so so giving through my Hip Hop then you’re a hypocrite, and that’s why even if you opposed my trail,…you didn’t want to go down that road because I was so giving with my Hip Hop.
SOHH: Will you continue to involve yourself in politics
DIA: It’s definitely not over. Looking back….It was a very stressful day. Making sure people were fed, the voting houses were being monitored correctly and people just working day in & day out diligently to make sure this thing went the way it was supposed to go. We just have to take this, learn from it and move on. Like I said, the group (The Lords) still does 60-100 shows so we’re still always on the road and being ambassadors for this culture. It will never stop Layne…never.