Hip-hop artists and activists unite to promote peace

LOS ANGELES — She does it all; dancer, choreographer, producer and host, but on one recent day, Leslie “Big Lez” Segar was tackling violence within the hip hop community. For her, it’s personal.

What You Need To Know

  • Hip Hop 4 Peace organized a town hall to talk about gun violence within the hip hop community
  • The event was held on the 25th anniversary of the murder of Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace
  • Wallace was shot and killed in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997
  • The event also promoted HR 1111, a bill proposed by Rep. Barbara Lee

“One minute, you’re playing spades with these guys who are your friends and your peers, and the next minute, you get the call and you’re like, ‘Wait? What?’” said Segar, who moderated the Hip Hop 4 Peace town Hall, “Peace in the Streets.”

It was a discussion that brought together artists and activists to stop violence within the hip hop community. They held the event on the 25th anniversary of the murder of the Notorious BIG — real name Christopher Wallace — in Los Angeles.

Back on March 8, 1997, Smalls was in LA promoting his latest album. He attended a party hosted by Vibe and Qwest Records at the Petersen Automotive Museum. The next morning at 12:45 am as he was leaving the event, he was shot and died of his injuries.

Segar was at the event with Biggie before he was shot but had to leave early to host an event the next day.

“You know having been there and in that space only hours ago, the same thing happened when I was in Vegas,” she said. “I was there for the Mike Tyson fight and we were going to the party that Tupac would have been at.”

She was close with the artists, knew their families, and worked with them regularly as a host on BET’s “Rap City” from 1994 to 1999. The violence within the hip hop community continues today with senseless killings like the recent murders of Nipsey Hussle and pop smoke

Tina Marie Tyler established Hip Hop for peace in 2020 and organized this week’s event at Catch One Nightclub in Los Angeles. She said getting insight from people within the industry is key.

“We have to look at what we’re doing as far as our behavior, as far as our artistry, as far as our lyrics, as far as what we’re saying on social media,” she said. “We look at the impact, because right now, it’s costing people their lives. People are dying over some things that are very, very trivial.”

She’s also bringing attention to HR 1111, a bill introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee, which provides financial resources to communities to fight gun violence.

As for Segar, she’s hoping to spark change.

“This is an industry and a genre that I care about, that I’m part of, and people who I respect, whose livelihood I respect and appreciate, and it saddens my heart that this is where we’re at,” she said .

She’s hoping the future will look very different because of the discussion that took place at the town hall.

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