On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, we take things in a slightly different direction by interviewing St. Louis musician C-Sharp about his get-out-the-vote initiative.
The St. Louis County native has launched “YouTurn 2016.” In addition to talking with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Willis Ryder Arnold about the importance of voting, C-Sharp is barnstorming across the city to talk about the value of voter participation.
“You want people to continue to give themselves some type of motivation and some type of responsibility,” said C-Sharp, a north St. Louis County native who’s been a musician since his teenage years. “That’s what’s missing. People feel like there’s nothing I can do about it. If you want to make a change and you have no idea how, then let’s try this.”
Since the shooting death of Michael Brown, hip-hop musicians have become more and more known for being socially conscious. Rappers like Tef Poe and Miistro Freeyo recorded songs directly inspired by the 18-year-old’s death and the turmoil that followed. Arnold and Rosenbaum spent part of the show talking about the impact of these artists – and how they’ve changed the perception of the region’s contribution to the rap genre. (C-Sharp noted that he's been politically active for some time. Other St. Louis rappers have incorporated politics into their music.)
Here’s what C-Sharp had to say during the show:
- C-Sharp is trying to get a large swath of people to buy into the idea of increased voter participation. “It’s asking everyone from the small business entrepreneurs to the people who develop software to the donators to the volunteers to the organizers and the planners to say: ‘Let’s find a way that we can increase this voter turnout and get people to believe in this process and see an immediate change that’s going to affect them right away,’” he said.
- Part of the reason voter turnout may not be high in parts of the region is that incumbents don’t have serious competition. C-Sharp says getting more people out to vote may change that reality. “If they’re seeing how the process works, maybe that would entice them to take a step out on faith,” he said. “You know, you’ve got more people who are from the neighborhood that are more popular than aldermen, you see what I’m saying? It’s one of those things that if people see the process working, that might entice them to have a little bit more civil responsibility and step out and try it.”
- C-Sharp says there’s a big urgency to bolster voter participation after the unrest in Ferguson inspired movements across the country. “If we can find out a way to create a module – which I think the YouTurn 2016 project is – we can say: ‘OK, a year and a half ago, we went from burning up in flames. To you know, a year and a half later, we’ve gotten voter turnout increased. And we’ve created neighborhood cohesion and civic responsibility,’” he said. “And that’s a module that we share with other cities that are in unrest right now. And that’s something we can teach everybody about how to put the power back to the people.”
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Willis Ryder Arnold on Twitter: @WillisRArnold
Follow C-Sharp on Twitter: @C2daSHARP
Music featured on this show:
“What You Gone Do?” by Miistro Freeyo
“Tell Jesus” by Bates
“War Cry” by Tef Poe
“Show Me State of Mind” by C-Sharp
“Put Down the Pistol” by C-Sharp