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Rap Music Seeking Favorable Spin In D.C.

Hip-hop, here’s a message from your elders: Don’t squander your potential to shape culture and politics.

At a Friday summit sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus, rap leaders were urged to help others understand the musical genre as a positive, potent force.

“What are you going to do with the power this music brings? We’re going to continue selling records. Whether this music has the potential to change the world is up to you,” said Hilary Rosen, president-CEO of the Recording Industry Assn. of America.

Also on the panel was Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons, whose nascent Hip-Hop Summit Action Network has been trying to counter rap’s violent stereotype. The RIAA has provided office space to the Simmons group, Rosen said.

Simmons has worked hard in recent months trying to educate Washington lawmakers and staff at the Federal Trade Commission. Over the last year, the FTC has been monitoring whether violent, mature-rated entertainment is being peddled to kids.

Also attending Friday’s panel were NAACP president-CEO Kweisi Mfume, and rappers Black Ice and Public Enemy’s Chuck D.