Heard on CultureShift

Hip Hop Public Health Turns Up the Volume on COVID-19 Safety

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Image credit: Photo by Adam NieĊ›cioruk on Unsplash

Hip Hop Public Health leverages the power of music and public service in a new music video for their “Behind the Mask” campaign. Watch the full video now.

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Hip Hop Public Health is a non-profit organization founded in 2006 with the mission of helping increase knowledge of healthy living through the transformative power of hip-hop.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, the organization has called upon the genre’s iconic talent like Doug E. Fresh and Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels to empower and assist people on ways they can keep themselves and loved ones safe from the virus.  

Through their ‘Behind the Mask’ campaign, the organization created a COVID-19 specific, PSA-style music video that acknowledges healthcare and essential workers and advocates for safety precautions to prevent the vast spread of the virus. 

The whole purpose of Hip Hop Public Health is to really leverage the power of music for behavior change and knowledge acquisition… Music has profound influence neurologically and the ability to soften resistance to messages.”  — Dr. Olajide Williams, founder of Hip Hop Public Health

What’s at the root is culturally-tailored communication. It’s primarily directed at communities of color [who are the hardest hit by the virus], but we specifically designed the video to have a much broader appeal,” says Dr. Olajide Williams, lead neurologist and founder of Hip Hop Public Health.

The whole purpose of Hip Hop Public Health is to really leverage the power of music for behavior change and knowledge acquisition. There’s really strong evidence highlighting the effects of music on cognition, mood, memory and learning. Music has profound influence neurologically and the ability to soften resistance to messages,” says Williams. 


Dr. Williams offers insight on how we can take care of ourselves and our loved ones and lessen the spread of COVID-19:

  • Mask up:  “I know this sounds like a broken record, but it is so important,” he says. “COVID is an airborne infection. It’s spread by the small aerosols, droplets that you breathe, sneeze or talk out. They can hang in the air for hours and travel up to three or more feet. So wearing a mask stops those aerosols from being dispersed into rooms.”

  • Ventilate: “We have to try to ventilate as much as possible. Being outdoors or ventilating your indoor system - an indoor system is really important. That means making sure you circulate the indoor air, about three times an hour. Making sure you’re opening your windows and if you can afford to… Really make sure that fresh air is recycled on a regular basis.   

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds or more: “This is critically important because we can do all of these things and an individual with contaminated hands from touching high-touched surfaces, can contract the virus. It’s important to be very conscious about how much you touch your face and try to minimize that in combination with washing your hands as much as possible.”

Click the audio player above to hear the founder of Hip Hop Public Health discuss the severity of COVID-19 in communities of color and how the organization uses music as a powerful tool for health-conscious messaging.

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Amanda LeClaire, Host, CultureShift

Amanda LeClaire is host of CultureShift. She spent a few years in the southwest for Arizona Public Media.

amanda.leclaire@wdet.org Follow @amandalee_lec

LaToya Cross, Producer, CultureShift

LaToya Cross is a Producer with CultureShift, where she produces in-depth content that spotlights creatives and individuals using their platform to examine, cultivate, shape and shift culture.

Latoya.cross@wdet.org Follow @ToizStory

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