JUiCE Los Angeles Hip-Hop

Concentrated J.U.i.C.E.

UCLA TODAY MAGAZINE, VOL. 25 NO. 5, Summer 2004

Concentrated J.U.I.C.E.

by Phillip Hampton

Three years ago, Marcus Napuri was lost in the rave scene. He pulled all-nighters spinning discs at dance parties, taking and selling ecstasy and other drugs, and break-dancing in his free time. Then friends told him about J.U.i.C.E. — Justice by Uniting in Creative Energy — a community center that provides facilities and training for people to develop and expand their skills in the four elements of hip-hop: dancing, rapping, deejaying and mural art.

So Napuri visited the Pico/Union-Koreatown church where the community center operates every Thursday evening. What he found was an open dance floor where he could practice his moves and upbeat people who helped to redirect his creative energy. Today, Napuri says, he is drug-free, working full-time as a painting contractor, and coming to the weekly community center to break-dance and introduce others to the positive side of hip-hop.

"J.U.i.C.E. is like my church; it makes me feel good," says Napuri, a fit 27-year-old decked out in the hip-hop uniform of baggy jeans, white and gray mesh jersey, sneakers and a white bandana beneath a black baseball cap with "Los Angeles" emblazoned across the front. "I know it's a cliché to say, but hip-hop saved my life."

Community center staff aim to replicate that sense of belonging and personal betterment with other programs throughout Los Angeles County. J.U.i.C.E. plans to use its $18,700 grant to gather population, crime and other demographic data, as well as information on the musical, artistic and cultural history of various neighborhoods, to look at how these factors influence the success of the current program.

UCLAlumni Association 
August 2004

UCLA Partnership Explores Hip-Hop as Means of Addressing Root Causes of Juvenile Crime

Mural art and rapping have evolved as elements of the urban art form of hip-hop, a cultural movement that has made its way from the streets to the mainstream. Hip-hop is also a means of creative release for youth who may not have access to more traditional cultural or artistic outlets. For some young people who live in dangerous environments, it often is challenging not only to avoid the many pitfalls that confront them, but to express themselves creatively. Can young people in this situation find a place to exercise their creativity safely and use it as a means toward personal betterment?

The answer is yes, thanks to Justice by Uniting in Creative Energy, or J.U.i.C.E., a UCLA Center for Community Partnerships grantee. This nonprofit community center, located in the Pico/Union-Koreatown area, focuses on providing a safe environment run by and for young people that enables youth to build skills in the four art forms associated with hip-hop culture: mural art, rapping, deejaying and dance. At the same time, the organization aims to examine the primary causes of delinquency among youth and offer healthier alternatives.

“The need to create safe places for Los Angeles-area youth is critical,” said Associate Vice Chancellor Franklin Gilliam Jr., of the UCLA Center for Community Partnerships. “Our mission at the center is to partner with organizations such as J.U.i.C.E. to create life-sustaining, lasting partnerships that will enhance the quality of life for members of the Los Angeles community.”

“The UCLA partnership with J.U.i.C.E. will help take the project to the next level through a sociological study that will assess the need for such a program in other parts of Los Angeles,” said Dawn Smith, executive director of J.U.i.C.E.

J.U.i.C.E.’s UCLA partner in this project is Cheryl Keyes, an associate professor of ethnomusicology who specializes in hip-hop culture. Keyes emphasizes that there is more to hip-hop than the rap music that has become popular in the mainstream media, which tends to be more profane and misogynistic than the variety preferred at J.U.i.C.E.

“As hip-hopper KRS-One says, rap is something you do and hip-hop is something you live,” Keyes said.

Many youth who have become involved with J.U.i.C.E. credit its program with saving them from a life of drugs, crime and violence. The cultural relevance J.U.i.C.E. offers to youth is one aspect of its success. Founded three years ago, the program has served more than 3,000 people, with about 100 attending each Thursday-evening drop-in session at the community center.

UCLA’s Center for Community Partnerships teams with community groups in the greater Los Angeles area with the goal of improving the quality of life throughout the area. The center supports the work of UCLA faculty, staff and students who forge partnerships with nonprofit organizations on projects that benefit Los Angeles County residents. The center awards grants for partnerships in three areas: strengthening children, youth and families; fostering economic development; and supporting arts and culture. Headed by Gilliam, to date the center has awarded more than $1 million in private foundation funds to partnerships benefiting 75 projects in the greater Los Angeles area.

2004 UCLA in L.A. Community Partnership Grants

J.U.i.C.E. from Concentrate

Organization: Justice by Uniting in Creative Energy
Campus Partners: Prof. Cheryl Keyes, Department of Ethnomusicology

Justice by Uniting in Creative Energy (J.U.i.C.E.) a hip-hop focused community center, opened on Thursday, June 14th 2001, and continues to operate every Thursday during after-school and evening hours. Attendees range from age two to adult, but most participants are adolescents. Currently, about 100 participants attend every session of J.U.i.C.E.

J.U.i.C.E. provides the facilities, equipment, and training necessary for young people to develop and expand skills in breakdancing, mural art, deejaying, and emceeing-commonly known as the four elements of hip-hop-as well as in music recording.

We are requesting funds for J.U.i.C.E. from Concentrate , a plan to develop a sustainable model of J.U.i.C.E. so that the program can be replicated all over Southern California and all over the U.S. The project would involve students in researching the demographics of each potential site, especially as it relates to the musical history and the area s crime and population statistics.

Developing cross-city/cross-cultural understanding and collaborations, and working with the young people of each area to formulate a plan to most effectively incorporate J.U.i.C.E. programming at each site. The students would also assist J.U.i.C.E. staff and the John Ernest Foundation in developing a J.U.i.C.E. manual comprising all materials necessary for replicating the programmatic model.

2003 Community Partnership Grants

The Element of Sound

Organization: Justice by Uniting in Creative Energy
Campus Partners: Prof. Cheryl Keyes, Department of Ethnomusicology

Abstract: 
Justice by Uniting in Creative Energy (J.U.i.C.E.) a hip-hop focused community center, opened on Thursday, June 14th 2001, and continues to operate every Thursday during after-school and evening hours. Youth of all ages are invited to attend, and all programs, with the exception of the music recording workshops, are free. Currently, about 100 participants attend every session of J.U.i.C.E.

J.U.i.C.E. provides the facilities, equipment, and training necessary for young people to develop and expand skills in breakdancing, mural art, deejaying, and emceeing-commonly known as the four elements of hip-hop — as well as in music recording.

This grant will help build the Element of Sound programs at J.U.i.C.E., allowing us the opportunity to enable upwards of 1200 young people, including J.U.i.C.E. participants and UCLA students, to benefit from various music-related workshops, classes, and performances.

The project will build leadership and mentoring skills, provide students historical and technical knowledge of the hip-hop culture, improve relations among youth and with the community, and culminate in tangible musical achievements. Final deliverables include CDs of student works, a conference, classroom presentations, and an audio and written archive of the project.

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