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Hip-Hop Summit Connects San Diego Teens To College, Careers

The Playground Preachers hip-hop group at the 2018 San Diego Youth Hip Hop & ...

Credit: Paving Great Futures

Above: The Playground Preachers hip-hop group at the 2018 San Diego Youth Hip Hop & Leadership Summit in this undated photo.

When Armand King was growing up in Southeast San Diego, he never visited the campus of San Diego State University which was only 15 minutes away. He didn’t think that college was an option for him as he dealt with the poverty and violence surrounding his neighborhood.

Now he stands on the SDSU quad, where the fourth annual San Diego Youth Hip Hop & Leadership Summit will be held Saturday. King, who co-founded the summit, reflected on how its aim is larger than just connecting teens to hip-hop.

“Like a lot of times, with us, we grew up in a neighborhood that’s...minutes away from here, and we never even believed that we could go to college. Go to a university. So we physically bring them here to see it, feel it, smell it, taste it,” King said.

King’s organization, Paving Great Futures, started the Hip Hop Summit in an effort to get young people to connect with local professionals in the entertainment industry, get information about educational opportunities, and tap into an environment of positivity — all things that King didn’t have while growing up in Lemon Grove.

The free event, which is exclusively for teenagers ages 12-17, begins with a street festival where teens can meet local businesses and musicians. Afterward, participants are broken up into groups, where they have an hour to create an original performance. Qualifying groups will then have a month to promote their performances online, and cash prizes will be awarded to the groups that get the furthest reach.

The aspirational messaging of the summit resonated with 19-year-old Andre Weir, a two-time songwriting contest winner who’s volunteering at this year’s event.

“The message the hip-hop summit is selling is, ‘Be you and chase your dreams’ because rappers don’t understand how much of an influence they have," Weir said. "So here we’re trying to show that there’s a positive influence in hip-hop.”

The summit kicks off on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the SDSU student union.

By Reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler

Armand King didn’t think that college was an option for him as he dealt with poverty and violence in his neighborhood. The San Diego Youth Hip Hop & Leadership Summit aims to help kids today who are like that too.

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