+
upworthy

hip hop

All photos courtesy of The Coca-Cola Company

Behind the Scenes Making Recycled Records with Mark Ronson

True

You’re walking down the sidewalk, earbuds in, listening to your favorite hip-hop beats. As your head bobs to the sounds, the sun warms your back. It’s a perfect day.

When the chorus hits, the empty Sprite bottle in your hand becomes a drumstick, passing traffic becomes a sea of concertgoers, and the concrete beneath your feet is suddenly a stage. Spinning on your heels, you close out the song with your face to the sky and hands in the air.


Spotting a bright blue bin, you chuck in your imaginary drumstick. The sound that echoes back is satisfyingly cool, a deep, reverberating clunk so loud you can hear it over the music.

That is the sound of recycling.

Imagine how harmonious it would sound to mix the tones of millions of bottles going through the recycling process—the melody of all of us doing our part?

The Coca-Cola Company recognizes its responsibility to help address the world’s plastic packaging crisis. Several of the company’s most popular brands were historically made in green plastic bottles—however, when green plastic is recycled, it is usually turned into single-use items that do not get recycled again. To take one more step toward greater sustainability, Sprite, Fresca and Seagram’s are now being packaged in clear plastic bottles, increasing the likelihood of them being recycled over and over again—a process known as “closed loop recycling.”

Surprisingly enough, closed loop recycling and music have a lot in common. Music producers typically use a technique called sound sampling: the process of taking an old sound, chopping it up, and flipping it into a completely new beat. Just like the process of recycling, old can be new in sound sampling. An old sound is used in a new track, which is morphed again into a newer track, and so on. Beats being made today will be recycled by another creative in the future. Que Uptown Funk!

To celebrate the shift from green to clear, The Coca-Cola Company partnered with iconic, genre-defining/defying producers Mark Ronson and Madlib to create the world’s first album composed of the sounds of the plastic recycling process itself. The Recycled Records EP uses real ambient sounds sampled from various points in the closed-loop recycling chain at four different recycling facilities scattered across the United States. From the percussion of a forklift beeping, to the tonal beat of a conveyor belt, to the hi-hat of air blown into a plastic bottle, the EP brings to life the magic of multiple reuses.

“It sounds very crazy to say it, but anything can become a sample…any sound can be manipulated. The sound of opening a barrel of plastic has its own funk and flow to it,” said Ronson.

Not only did The Coca-Cola Company find a way to literally turn the sounds of recycling into music, thanks to the Recycled Records Beat Machine, you can be part of that process, too. Using the site, music enthusiasts are able to remix the very same recycled sound library used by Ronson and Madlib into innovative compositions of their own through an interactive, one-of-a-kind digitized version of an 808 beat machine. Generally, the biggest obstacle for many aspiring artists is accessing the proper musical technology, which is yet another reason why Recycled Records is so dang cool—this beat machine is free and accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

Innovation and creativity are the way of the future; tap into yours today by creating a Recycled Record of your very own. Maybe someday, other people will be dancing down the street listening to YOUR beats!

11-year-old Isaac wrote a rap about being bullied. Too embarrassed to perform it, he sent it to his favorite rapper for help.

Mac Lethal, a Kansas City rapper best known for his super-fast delivery and the best breakfast anthem of all time, put Isaac's rap over a beat and made a video of the powerful letter.

Image via Mac Lethal/YouTube.


Isaac's story of bullying is heartbreaking and familiar.

Isaac and another kid named Thomas used to be great friends — riding bikes, swimming, and playing video games together. Now, Thomas won't stop physically and verbally tormenting him.

All GIFs via Mac Lethal/YouTube.

Isaac keeps trying to reconnect with his old friend, and he even let Thomas copy his math work. But he took advantage of Isaac's kindness.

Isaac has no idea what went wrong or how it happened. And it really hurts.

But despite their falling out, Isaac still has hopes he can salvage the friendship, and he wants Thomas to know he cares.

Losing a trusted friend is hard enough. That same friend turning into a bully without an explanation? It's absolutely devastating and painful.

That pain comes through in Isaac's gut-wrenching lyrics in the full video below:

Dealing with bullies is something too many kids deal with every day, but there's a lot we can do.

Sadly, there are bullying situations like Isaac's in many classrooms and schools around the country. 28% of students in grades 6-12 have experienced bullying. More than 70% of kids say they've seen it in their schools.

Bullying prevention and intervention are complicated, but approaches that involve the entire school community show promise. When everyone — including students, families, teachers, and staff like bus drivers, cafeteria monitors, and school nurses — encourages a culture of respect and models kindness, it can go along way. Students also benefit when teachers, parents, and other trusted adults talk to them about bullying and ensure they know how to find help for themselves or other kids who need it.

Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

Bullying is not "just a part of growing up," and it's not OK. Kids need to know they're not alone.

Whether you're a well-known rapper, parent, educator, coach, or just a concerned adult, connect with local schools and community partners that work with kids and families to create a culture of kindness. When we stand together, we can improve our schools and communities.

More

Watch one woman use hip-hop and dance to dispel myths about Muslims.

Amirah Sackett is fighting anti-Islam sentiment in a powerful way.

In 2011, Amirah Sackett created "We're Muslim, Don't Panic," a project that uses hip-hop and dance to bust myths about Islam.

Five years later, Sackett's dance, lecture, and discussion sessions are more important than ever. A self-described Muslim American who loves hip-hop and break dancing, Sackett's performances are unlike anything most people have seen; more importantly, they're unlike anything you might expect.

Sackett's goal is to help humanize Muslims, and her message couldn't have come at a better time.

A recent FBI report found that U.S. hate crimes against Muslims jumped by an alarming 67% in 2015 over the previous year.

Anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise, with the estimated 3.3 million U.S. Muslims paying a steep price for the hate in the form of physical attacks, harassment, and discrimination. According to a University of Michigan study, the portrayal of Muslims in the media appears to be contributing to the increased hostility.

The solution? For more people to see Muslim people as they are — as other human beings rather than a collection of stereotypes. That's what makes Sackett's performance so needed.

Sackett's work takes powerful aim at people's preconceived notions about Muslims by hitting them with something unexpected.

"There's something about watching dancers who are Muslim, who are covered, start doing this crazy movement that's really strong and really beautiful and really hip-hop," Sackett tells Upworthy. "That alone, it just breaks the expectation of what you're imagining that person to be."

Informative and entertaining, Sackett's work not only helps us to understand our differences, but to celebrate our shared culture.

Watch below to learn more about how Amirah Sackett is helping to create a more loving world:

Young Thug does not give a shit about your feelings.

I'm sorry if that bothers you. You might share a planet, a community, or even a room with the 25-year-old rapper. But you are not in his orbit. Words thrown at him in anger, disgust, or awe seem to roll off his back like water. He just doesn't care.

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for PANDORA Media.


“I like everything that people say,” he told The Guardian. “No matter what they say. You gay, you a punk. You got a nice girlfriend, you’re ugly, you can’t rap, you’re the hardest.”

He sets opinions aside and goes about his business. And by the way, his business is booming.

His latest mixtape is a great listen, but most people are stuck on the cover.

It's called "JEFFERY." That's Thug's given name. And he's on the cover, wearing a stunning garment-turned-sculpture, by artist/designer Alessandro Trincone.

""JEFFERY"" available everywhere tonight at 12am est. Shot by: @whoisglp

A photo posted by ""JEFFERY"" (@thuggerthugger1) on

Part samurai, part Scarlett O'Hara, the piece is tailor-made for someone like Young Thug. Violet ruffles effortlessly fall down his body. His face is obscured by a jaunty parasol hat, a few stray dreads in the frame. Head to toe, it's beautiful.

"When I seen that dress,” he told Billboard magazine, “I felt like God gave it to me.”

Fans and followers fired back with the kind of comments you might expect from the bowels of Twitter. Many questioned his sexuality. Some told him they wouldn't buy his music. Some even questioned the sexuality of everyone who even listened to the album.

Luckily, his supporters were equally, if not more, outspoken.

Erykah Badu even tweeted that Thug's look reminded her of André 3000. And she would know.

This is not Young Thug's first time pushing back on outdated gender norms.

"She told me that she love the way I dress, like a prince but I'm a boy."

He's tall and sleight of frame. Like most rappers, he wears chains, rings, and fabulous jewelry. But that's where a lot of the comparisons end. He rocks wooly Ugg boots and occasionally dons children's dresses as T-shirts. You don't have to "get it" to see that it totally works for him.

YOUNG THUG; IN L.A.... PHOTO BY: @beelbe

A photo posted by ""JEFFERY"" (@thuggerthugger1) on

As a kid, he says, he started gambling and used his winnings to pay for his own clothes, mostly women's.

His feet were small enough to wear his sisters' glitter shoes. But not everyone celebrated Jeffery's groundbreaking choices.

"My dad would whoop me: ‘You’re not going to school now, you’ll embarrass us!’ But I never gave a f— what people think," he told Billboard.

So now, 90% of his clothes are women's. And, by any standard, he looks amazing.

“When it comes to swag, there’s no gender involved," he told Billboard.

Sin life....

A photo posted by ""JEFFERY"" (@thuggerthugger1) on

Of course, Jeffery-turned-Young Thug's music leaves some things (OK, many things) to be desired.

One critic described Thug's brand of hip-hop as post-verbal. It's brash. It glorifies guns. It's misogynistic. It's homophobic. And as much as I hate to admit, it's catchy af.

He's the first artist to have three Top Five rap albums on the Billboard charts in one year. He sells out shows. He's doing Calvin Klein ads. Teens chant his name. White teens, even.

Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for BET Networks.

So yeah, when the man who yells, "I'mma catch your mama, she gone f*$%  me and my team" hints he may wear a dress at his wedding, it's a bit jarring. It doesn't make sense. But maybe that's the point.

And as a black queer woman, I'll admit that Young Thug is more than a little maddening.

He exists in a really frustrating, hypocritical intersection. He can degrade women and wear dresses. He can rap adamantly about not being gay, throwing the word faggot around like confetti, and still have Elton John sing his praises.

Legendary ...@eltonjohn

A photo posted by ""JEFFERY"" (@thuggerthugger1) on

No, Young Thug is not the black, genderqueer, forward-thinking, rockstar-rapper that so many of us want him to be. But he is making us think about gender norms and masculinity, and that's important.

I believe we can continue to push and challenge him on the messages he's putting out into the world while fully believing he'll look beautiful on his wedding day in a gorgeous dress. We all deserve to feel comfortable in our own skin, even people who's lyrics we don't always agree with.

Young Thug matters because masculinity, and especially black masculinity, isn't written in stone.

He's an artist. He's a father. He's the 10th of 11 children. He's a student of high fashion. He's here to be himself and enjoy himself, opinions be damned.

His style and creativity will undoubtedly inspire a generation of young men to take chances and reject the notion of monolithic black hypermasculinity. And if he can do all that in a dress, why the hell not?

Photo by Prince Williams/Getty Images for PUMA.