A3C: Leading The Conversation On Tough Issues In Hip-Hop

Oct 3, 2016

Some of the biggest names hip-hop will perform at this week's A3C Festival and Conference in Atlanta.  But this event isn't just about music.  Also on the agenda: discussions about mental health and moving civil rights protests beyond social media. Two women will lead the dialogue.  Dina Marto is owner and founder of Twelve Music Studios and Ashley Reid is founder the social justice group "The People Assembly." 

Rickey Bevington: Dina, let's start with you, as a member of the A3C programming board. Tell us about your panel and why it's something that the music industry should be paying attention to.

Dina Marto: I think all industries need to be paying attention to this. It's called "The Major Keys to Mental Health in Hip-Hop" and we are going to be basically discussing mental health. The signs of somebody that needs help. We're going to talk about different people's personal stories. Ashley is actually going to be actually on the panel.

Ashley Reid: I'll be on the panel as well talking about my mental health issues.

Marto: I want people to walk away knowing that this issue, or issues like depression and different things like that, are common. These are things that we need to discuss in our community, especially in the urban community where you have to be strong and asking for help is a sign of weakness.

Reid: It's a taboo subject.

Marto: It is. And so I really want to bring some light on on this subject.

Reid: I think that that will be really powerful and important for people to hear from those who have very similar stories. Depression and mental illness and things like that are actually things that don't discriminate.

Bevington:  Dina, is this something you see, running a studio?

Marto: I've run across a lot of crazy people (laughs). My personal experience with it is that I was the executive assistant to the late and great Shakir Stewart who was the executive vice president of Def Jam who took Jay-Z's place when Jay-Z left. [Stewart] ended up committing suicide. It changed my life forever.

Looking back, I saw signs. I think there are ways that he could have gotten help. Knowing that we didn't know what to look for then -- that's why I want to bring awareness to this subject. It was something that was preventable and didn't need to happen.

Bevington: Ashley, tell us about your panel.

Reid: What we would like to do with this panel, which is called "Revolution: Beyond a Hashtag" is to focus on solutions with movement, whether that's movement in your personal empowerment and human rights, whether that's movement in terms of awareness and enlightenment with the justice system, with just knowing your rights period. We hope that people leave inspired and knowing a next step to take whether that's personally or with your community.

Bevington: The People Assembly. Tell me about the genesis. Did it come about as part of the Black Lives Matter movement and awareness?

Reid: It came about from pain and despair and not knowing what to do next. We are people that have protested. What we've done is worked on knowing how to truly empower yourself through love and your human rights, and what a community is. Unfortunately, it came together from trauma. But at the end of the day it's about - you know - if you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel light it up yourself. And that's what we're really about. (laughs)