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Forget baseball. Politics is officially the new Great American Pastime. It’s not just a sport, mind you. It’s bloodsport. Armchair warriors with piss-poor information lobbing bombs at one another. Devoid of context. Mean-spirited. Stupid and disconnected.

News Beat is our attempt to positively influence the narrative. Over the past 15 years, I’ve battled shoulder-to-shoulder with some incredible journalists publishing an alternative weekly newspaper. We broke big stories, pressured government officials (with some thrown out of office and even in jail), got legislation passed and raised awareness of critical local issues. We published little stories along the way as well that meant the world to us.

Eventually, it felt like we were just shouting into the abyss. The torrent of bad information, 24-hour news cycle rife with clickbait, and the vitriolic treatment of journalists wore on us. The information was still right and righteous, but it seemed as though no one was listening. It wasn’t that we weren’t being heard. But as anyone in a relationship will attest, hearing isn’t listening.

So now we’re back. No more small ball. We’re swinging for the fences and breaking down issues we care about deeply; issues that deserve more sunlight and examination. We’re taking our combined experience in music and reporting to create a better, more compelling vehicle to spit our message, speak truth to power and challenge conventional wisdom.

We want every News Beat to be a work of art—bringing together the activist communities in both hip-hop and journalism to preach a new narrative. As our Editor-In-Chief Christopher Twarowski termed it: “The Truth, Amplified.” Our fellow journalists and activists will understand the frustration that brought us to this point. News Beat is the culmination of outrage and fury, mixed with knowledge, investigative chops and a knack for great storytelling. Set to a beat.

One topic per episode. Sixteen minutes of straight truth. (There are reasons for the 16.) The smartest people in the country interviewed by award-winning journalists. Original verses from hip-hop artists that speak truth to power with their whole bodies and souls. A fucking awesome and groundbreaking formula if ever there was one.

True activists and advocates for change are tired of shouting at the rain only to be drowned out by the thunder of misinformation. We’re piercing the echo chambers and breaking through the clutter with the help of artists who care about the world we live in. But this only works with your support. Listen. Share. Comment. Critique. Let’s create more positive dialogue to influence the national discourse.

Every News Beat will feature a separate, behind-the-scenes explainer called “BackBeat”—a frank discussion with the News Beat team members who worked on the episode. We decided to do this because we want to pull back the curtain and provide transparency in the process. Journalists and artists are people, people with opinions and perspectives. And these things not only matter, they’re a natural and necessary part of the process. I’ve always found the idea of “balanced” reporting to be insulting. Giving equal weight to a lie isn’t balanced. It’s fraudulent.

What’s important to us is that each episode is thoughtfully articulated, heavily researched and presented in way that stirs and inspires. BackBeat will take listeners through our thought process and detail the challenges we faced in constructing the episode. As our audience develops and begins to interact, we’ll likely add more interactive features, like Facebook Live, and maybe even events, down the road. All in the name of transparency, openness and dialogue.

We know who we are and won’t shy away from it. And we’re going to pour blood, love and sweat into every episode. What we ask in return is that you refrain from labeling News Beat. Don’t stereotype us. Don’t put us in a box.

Share, discuss, disagree, vent—but be open.

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