In recent years, there has been a push in urban culture to “go green.” Iconic rap duo Redman and Method Man have switched to a vegetarian diet. In December, hip-hop’s first couple, Jay-Z and Beyonce, announced a 22-day all vegan challenge. Legendary tandem Styles P and Jadakiss made headlines recently with the expansion of their juice bars in New York City. This is not done because it’s the trendy thing to do. These individuals are trying to influence the Black community– plagued with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and other deadly ailments related to food–to make healthier decisions with what they put in their bodies.
Emcee and DJ, letef Hotep Vita (aka DJ Cavem Moetivation) has made it his life’s work to get the people in his Five Points, Denver community and beyond make healthier choices when it comes to food. He transitioned from gangbanger to eco-cultivator and educator, so that he could save his own life and others’. The northeast Denver community is considered a food desert, meaning there are no suitable grocery stores or food sources to depend on for sustenance. Through his food justice organization, Going Green, Living Bling, he has worked with over 4,000 youth and taught them how to grow, prepare, cook and sell food for their communities, with a hip-hop element. His work has earned him commendations, such as Grammy nod for the 2014 Music Educator Award. His work has also been covered in college courses at Wyoming University and Stanford Medical School. Through his work, he has redefined the term “OG” to mean organic gardener, or “organic gangster,” as he put it. “The young gangsters needed the opportunity to rep their community,” said Vita. “They got the best collard greens on Park Hill. They got the best broccoli on the East Side. It’s really opening up the conversation and showing these young G’s, you can still sell greens, just not the ones you roll; the ones you steam up a little bit.”
Vita’s journey has been captured in a short documentary by filmmaker JLove Calderon titled, ‘From Gangs To Gardens.’ The doc is co-produced by fellow hip-hop vegan M-1 of dead prez. Check out the trailer below. To view the full doc, click here.