Denver's DJ Cavem Moetevation spends plenty of time focusing on the "green" stuff. But his green stuff is not money or weed. Instead, his focus is on kale and being eco-friendly. Cavem -- a former Westword MasterMind award winner -- is a husband and father, a teacher, a rapper, a DJ, a midwife, and an innovator. While other hustlers are out there chasing record deals, shiny cars and monster sound systems, he's busy chasing schools, hoping they will adopt his curriculum, which uses hip-hop to teach students. He's got a new video out in support of his latest project, Eco-Twerk.
When we talked to him last week, he was taking a break from tending one of the gardens he's established in downtown Denver. His last album, The Produce Section, dealt with subjects like green jobs, raw diets and clean living. He used it to shed light on what he sees as an epidemic of bad health in his inner-city community. The songs were popular enough locally that Denver Public Schools hired him to teach a class using the album as part of a curriculum that also includes juice-making lessons and hands-on experience in gardens.
This time around, he's shifting his focus from food to climate change. "For Eco-Twerk, I'm talking about hybrid cars, riding bikes, solar-powered engines -- these are the things that I've seen," he says. "It would be dope to have a festival with solar-powered lowriders with switches. I want to glorify this approach to green awareness."
With The Produce Section, Cavem realized he could deliver his message better by using a wide range of media. In addition to the album and the accompanying curriculum, he produced several videos that show students working in the gardens he built. He's even more focused on the visual element this time around. He connected with Denver-based F4D Studios for the project, and in addition to a music video for the song "Hybrid Lex," which was released last week, he's working on a documentary about how hip-hop culture can help the cause of environmentalism.
In "Hybrid Lex," Cavem laments the effects of pollution on the city. He also challenges people to make changes in their lives. He offers up simple solutions, like riding a bike around your neighborhood instead of filling up your gas guzzler and cruising around. Cavem isn't putting aside his old projects in favor of Eco-Twerk, however. In fact, he's hoping to bring the class he currently teaches in Denver to a wider audience. He's working on an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for his Produce Section curriculum. His plan is to raise $55,000, which will be used to establish urban gardening programs, provide tools with which to maintain them and set up workshops for inner-city schools.
Whether he reaches that goal or not, Cavem still wants to find ways to get kids to think more about their planet. He's also working to convince school districts to install tower gardens in their classrooms. The gardens, one version of which he designed, are small, hydroponic systems that are easily maintained, so students can learn gardening skills and be exposed to healthier food. But that's just a start. Cavem recognizes the challenges of motivating people, whether they are students or not, to make pervasive changes to their lifestyle. Hip-hop is a uniquely powerful tool, and he knows firsthand that rappers can have a profound influence.
"I grew up listening to KRS-One, Gang Starr, Tupac. They changed my life," he says. "A lot of that is what I want to do. I want to change people's lives."
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