EDUCATION

Positive hip hop artists reach out to Donaldsonville youth

Michael Tortorich
David “Dee 1” Augustine and Dr. Rani “Tha Hip Hop Doc” Whitfield pose with Lowery Intermediate students during the premiere of their new music videos, which were shot shot at the Donaldsonville school.

DONALDSONVILLE – Themes in hip hop music are not always positive, but the men known as Tha Hip Hop Doc and Dee 1 want to change that.

Rani G. Whitfield, M.D., is a Baton Rouge physician who has been reaching out to young people in Ascension Parish over the last few years.

Whitfield, along with Baker Middle School teacher and musician David Augustine, were recently featured in Drug Awareness Day activities for Ascension Parish schools. The duo premiered  their video at Lowery Intermediate School in Donaldsonville Jan. 31 along with DJ Eagle Eye from Baton Rouge’s “Max 94.1” radio station.

The videos were filmed Dec. 6-7 at the Donaldsonville school using the songs “Walk the Walk” and “Whatever” from their album, which features positive hip hop.

“It is our hope to inspire the young students at Lowery to strive for success in all that they do,” Whitfield said.

The doctor went on to say young people all around the country die preventable and treatable diseases. He said they are the first generation of young people to have a decreased life expectancy because of unhealthy lifestyles and poor decisions.

Whitfield works to educate young people about the dangers of HIV and AIDS, obesity, heart disease, substance abuse and steroid use.

“We are trying to change this,” Whitfield said.

One way he hopes to improve the lives of young people is through Tha Hip Hop Healthy Coalition, which is comprised of health industry and community partners. The coalition brings together artists, celebrities and athletes to educate young people on health issues using interactive workshops, health fairs, concerts and seminars.

Whitfield has a lot of star power behind him. He’s been known to rub elbows with the likes of great athletes like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Lolo Jones, to name just a few.

Whitfield and Augustine discovered the Donaldsonville school in October during the drug awareness “Blue Ribbon Week,” and thought it would serve as the perfect backdrop for their two music videos.

Holding the video premiere and awards program at Lowery was a way to thank the students, faculty and staff, Whitfield said.

“The community of Donaldsonville welcomed both Dee 1 and I with open arms allowing us to fulfill our dream of filming a video together,” Whitfield said.

Monica Hills, principal at Lowery, said it was good to have the duo back to inspire the children.

“Everyone at Lowery Intermediate is so excited,” the principal said. “They actually sit and listen to their message, and that is always a positive thing.”

Whitfield said he takes pride in giving back to the community, quoting from the song “Whatever” where he says, “I don’t need rap, but I choose to do it because I love to give back.”

“This will not be the last time we visit the city of Donaldsonville,” he said.

For more information on Tha Hip Hop Doc, visit his Web site at www.h2doc.com.