For LaMar Hudson, writing rap songs goes hand in hand with his efforts to reach out to young people. A University Place-based rapper and motivational speaker, Hudson uses rap to convey positive messages about overcoming adversity and making good choices in life.
As a ninth grader, Hudson was asked by a teacher to write a rap song with an anti-drug message. He wrote a tune, and a video for it was filmed at school.
When he graduated from Wilson High School, his class threw a party at Wild Waves that included a rap contest. A woman who served as a chaperone worked for Metropolitan Development Council. She was so impressed with Hudson's performance she asked him to write a song for the non-profit organization. Word of mouth spread about the song, and soon other organizations were asking Hudson to write songs promoting positive messages.
For more than 15 years Hudson has spread his messages to youth through school assemblies and conferences. He likes to begin his appearances with music. "It helps to engage the audience," he remarked.
In 2004 Hudson released an EP, "It Won't Be Easy But It Can Be Done." This year he released a full-length album, "I Am Who I Am." Song titles mirror the themes of his presentations - "Let's Lose The Violence,""Peer Pressure" and "Drugs Ain't Never Been a Friend."
Hudson grew up on the East Side in a family plagued by alcohol abuse, domestic violence and neglect. Getting locked up in jail or prison did not appeal to him, and thus he steered clear of criminal activity. Observing the problems in his home and neighborhood, Hudson was determined to follow a different path in his life. "I kept my eyes on the prize," he said. "I am living proof you can overcome adversity, no matter how extreme."
Students in the Bethel, Franklin Pierce and University Place school districts appear on the album. Helping youth develop their creative talents is important to Hudson. For youth into rap, he cautions them that adults won't want to listen if their material is vulgar. He encourages them to write positive messages as he does.
Hudson has seen youth with problems change their lives through musical pursuits. "I am not saying the change is automatic, but the seed was planted."
He is well aware of the negative view many adults have toward rap music. He counters this by getting them to listen to one or two of his songs. "Once they take the time to listen, they realize there can be something positive in the rap genre," he remarked. As an example, he mentioned the Seattle to Portland bicycle race this past summer. He was selling copies of his new CD along the route. One woman told him she didn't like rap, but appreciated his material because it is not vulgar.
In the future, Hudson wants to travel nationally and internationally, performing his music and reaching out to youth. "Everyone needs to hear a positive message," he said.
For more information go to www.lamarhudson.com or www.myspace.com/lamarmessage.