Best Politically Active Hip-Hop Performance Artist - 2011
Paul Flores spends a lot of time and energy fighting stereotypes and assumptions. One of these stereotypes is attached to hip-hop. Despite some stars in the genre having done all they can to make people believe the music is all about violence, drugs, and demeaning women, Flores knows it holds great power for good. It's too often forgotten that the genre originated in New York City in the 1970s as protest music, and that it promoted peace between Latino and African-American cultures. Flores helps young people use the music as well as spoken-word poetry to bridge similar cultural gaps and express themselves in a way that doesn't involve violence. The cofounder of literacy and spoken-word program Youth Speaks and an adjunct professor of theater at USF, he encourages them to be informed and politically involved to bring about social change. Flores is a performer himself, writing hip-hop theater pieces in recent years including Representa! and You're Gonna Cry. In the latter, he dramatizes the conflicts of the great demographic shift in the Mission District during the dot-com boom as landlords, developers, and techno-yuppies rolled over and turfed out generations of working-class Latinos without so much as wishing them good luck. In it, he speaks for a yuppie, a gangster, and a little girl, all players in one of the biggest upheavals the city has known.