Hip-hop music and environmental awareness merged at a post-Earth Day celebration at the Malibu Library on Friday, April 25.
Archie Hill, founder of Third Rock Hip-Hop, presented a video version of the first four chapters of his upcoming five-chapter book, “Third Rock and Friends: A Trip to the Beach” to a crowd of about 25 children from Juan Cabrillo Elementary School.
“The kids are the ones who are going to make the difference,” Hill said. “They’re the ones that are going to run the planet after us. So if we can get a generation of kids to just own that, then I think that will make a big difference in years to come.”
The video featured characters modeled after items representing environmental activism. Third Rock and his sister, Little Rock, had heads shaped like planet Earth, Big Binny was a recycling bin with muscular arms, T-Can was a trash can, Traxx was a bulldozer that works in a landfill, and PC Otter was a sea otter that lived in the ocean.
In between chapters, Hill performed environmentally themed hip-hop songs, such as “Pick It Up” and “Landfill Blues.” All of the songs in the video were written by Hill, and the lyrics to the songs were displayed on the projector so the audience could follow along.
Hill said hip-hop music was a good way to reach children because it is a genre of music that they are already listening to.
Rhonda Phillips, who narrated the video, could not wait to get started on the project when she first met Hill.
“As soon as I heard it I was interested,” Phillips said. “It was a no-brainer.”
Phillips also feels that teaching kids at an early age is the best way for them to potentially make caring about the environment part of their daily lives.
“It’s a better idea when you teach kids at a young age because they are more likely to continue the habit throughout their lives and teach others,” Phillips said.
Tobias Gehardt, who illustrated Hill’s book, was introduced to Hill through a mutual friend. He was happy to have the chance to use his skills to benefit children.
“I’ve always kind of had an interest in [illustrating] children’s books,” Gehardt said. “I think this was a good opportunity for me to get experience doing it and work with somebody.”
At the end of the presentation, Hill gave the children from the elementary school stickers with characters from the video printed on them. The kids were also treated to free books provided by the library.
Hill began writing hip-hop songs about the environment in 2006 when he wrote “Think Green,” which was about global warming. Since then, he has been invited to many elementary schools to use his hop-hop music to teach kids about being environmentally conscious.
Even though Hill has written all of the songs featured in the video, he wants the children to focus on the characters.
“I wanted the rap to come from the characters’ perspective, like this is him rapping, not me,” Hill said.
Phillips said Hill’s project has the potential to make it to kid’s television, and believes that its potential does not stop there.
“I think that we can only get better as it expands,” Phillips said. “In my mind, there’s no limit.”