Krip-Hop Nation Celebrates 10th Anniversary of First Album

Painting by Carina Lomeli

opens in a new windowKrip-Hop Nation, a world-wide collective of hip-hop artists with disabilities, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its first album with a celebration event in Oakland on August 5, and the release of a opens in a new window24 track double album: The Best of Krip-Hop Nation. The retrospective album features highlights from Krip-Hop’s five previous mix-tape albums along with guest appearances by hip-hop legends Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels of Run-D.M.C. and Wonder Mike of The Sugarhill Gang.

The collective first began 13 years ago when Leroy Moore and Keith “Fezo” Jones, two Bay Area hip-hop heads with cerebral palsy, attended the 2004 Democratic National Convention Disability Caucus. Both had seen the birth of the hip-hop scene as teenagers in New York City, and started to discuss the lack of disability representation in hip-hop.

Moore began using his presence on social media and the power of a disability radio show called “Pushing Limits” on KPFA 94.1 FM in Berkeley, California, to reach out to and promote disabled hip-hop artists. Moore saw it as a way to counteract the ableist, homophobic, and misogynist messages that he says have permeated the hip-hop scene since its beginning.

Over the years, Krip Hop Nation has grown into a loose collective of 300 rappers, poets, spoken word artists, and musicians from around the world with the mission is to educate the entertainment industries and general public about the talents, history, rights and marketability of hip-hop artists and other musicians with disabilities.

“When I was growing up I was told I couldn’t be a part of those early cyphers [neighborhood freestyle circles] because of my disability. says Moore. “Now, you’ve got a lot of prominent hip-hop artists playing at disability: Drake’s in a wheelchair on a sitcom, Rick Ross is in a wheelchair as Little Jimmy, Kendrick Lamar makes a blind woman the devil in one of his videos, and Ice Cube does benefits for Autism Speaks, which doesn’t represent the views of many with autism — what is that?”

At the same time Krip-Hop Nation artists struggle to get a foothold in the hip-hop mainstream. Despite this, Moore is proud of what the collective has accomplished, while staying mindful of the work that remains.

“I think what we have is really extraordinary. As two people who are black, disabled and on SSI, we’ve done a lot. This is an international movement. We’ve traveled internationally, we’ve released records and we’ve been interviewed by hip-hop magazines, so I think we’ve done a lot. The hurdle is who is ready to take it over? I’m getting older. Keith Jones is getting older. Will Krip-Hop survive beyond me and Keith? It’s a hard story. The other hard story, is mainstream hip-hop really listening to Krip Hop and if not, how can we get on their level, not just to be there, but to educate them?”

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