DJ Jesaya’s “Operation Hope” mixtape (Switzerland/India)
After two years of work, August 31st marked the release date of Switzerland hip-hop pioneer DJ Jesaya’s Operation Hope mixtape, a 27-track charity project for a child-aid program in India packed with an impressive roster of hip-hop heavyweights including Rakaa Iriscience (Dilated People), Kool G Rap, Papoose, Red Cafe, Main Flow, Artifacts, Stereo Boyz, J-Ro (The Alkoholiks), Termanology, and more.
By Amanda Macchia (for World Hip Hop Market)
According one source, DJ Premier helped make the release party a huge success for Operation Hope and the album dropped topped at #2 on the Swiss music charts. The album has taken a slower step forward garnering attention from U.S. audiences and press, despite the local talent present on the record.
All proceeds from the mixtape will go to Operation Hope, a charity organization founded by Dj Jesaya’s mother, Anna, which serves children and adults in the Dehradun district of India.
Operation Hope provides the population with medical aid, clothing, shelter, birth control and education. Anna has created ties with several of the local community shopkeepers, who regularly provide her with goods and other articles to be distributed amongst those in need.
Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, Dehradun is renowned for its sprawling, scenic landscape – natural waterfalls, springs, and caves surround a host of awe-inspiring religious spots, temples, and resorts. Dehradun is also close to world-famous tourist destinations like Tapkeshwar Temple and Santala Devi.
The first video drop for the album, “Baby We Can (Feat. Artifacts),” invites viewers into the heart of the district’s daily beat. Filmed onsite, audiences are transported through a day in the life of one of Operation Hope’s charity recipients, a young girl named Mohinika.
The hook from the sample, “Baby we can meet…” rolls buoyantly in the background. A turquoise door with paint peeling its way to lighter shades of blue and yellowed whites, swings open. Mohinika emerges, yawning. She walks over to a gallon bucket of water, where she squats down to brush her teeth.
The video takes you from the young girl’s shack in her small, impoverished village to the bustling streets of Dehradun city, as Mohinika and her friends make their way to school. Although the images are striking, given their realistic portrayal of the economic stratification and poverty in India, they are also just as optimistic.
“Baby We Can” musters a sense of hopefulness by using bright imagery and an upbeat soundtrack to paint a robust, forward-moving picture of Dehradun culture. Daily life is carried with a lighthearted weightlessness that exists despite the blatant issues of poverty and inequity. It is neither helpless nor overly optimistic. Quick, colorful clips of street side vendors preparing food, dying cloth, and ironing fabric on the sidewalk flash by. Donkeys laze about on the street’s edge as men travel by motorcycle. Serious, transfixed gazes from Dehradun residents make there way into the line of images – slow, magnetic portraits of India. The only risk here is that the record’s overall shallow lyrical content doesn’t match up to the seriousness of Operation Hope’s cause.
The video ends with smiling children, dancing playfully for the camera outside of a small shack, laughing with their eyes fixed onto the viewer’s. Staring into the sunny faces of young Dehradun, one easily believes that, indeed, maybe we can meet – maybe we can come together and do something positive for one another. Maybe there is a light inside of this story, reaching us through Operation Hope’s mission.
The repeated mantra that we can in “Baby We Can” fosters a connection between the idea of us and them. A happy beat and a smiling face amidst a world of rubble, hard work, and even harsher circumstances, sheds light on something shared by all of the communities of our world. We can all get behind the fight for equitable access to our basic human rights. If we’re connected, maybe we can change things for girls like Mohinika and places like Dehradun.
Mohinika circles the corner to her own shack as the music fades out. White type-face against a black background takes over the screen, wheeling us back to immediacy of her need:
“In India every year 2.1 million children die before their 5th anniversary. Up to 80 million children are not going to school because they are forced to work.”
You can purchase full album for $9.99 on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/operation-hope/id557553730.
All contributions will go directly to Operation Hope.