Forthright - Stronger than a weapon

PhotographerSascha Kraus
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

The series Forthright wants to give such rap artists a face and an identity, who speak out their mind. Hip hop musicians from around the world raise their voice to fight injustice and oppression. They are passionate musicians and speak up for freedom and human rights. The pictures show what they do, capturing their work and personal lives. Each artist has an individual background and a story to tell. All of them struggled and experienced pain and injustice. All artists have in common, that they do not fear to speak up and are unfailingly telling the people the truth and to end oppression in any case.


With the aim of portraying musicians or rather hip hop and rap artists, I began this project in 2010. I am showing what those artist, who are struggling against social injustice and abuse, do. They raise their voice even though it means to risk one’s life and freedom. Forthright, meaning direct and outspoken, regards those hip hop and rap artists, who speak up and aim to change the world. The artists shown in this series all fight for better conditions. They have a story and message to tell with their music. Each artist gives hope, always combined with the joy and power of music. Particularly hip hop must be understood as much more than just a music genre. It is an attitude and a way to express oneself. It is not a subculture but an established art and a culture itself. It is about having and spreading a message and raising one’s voice. Hip hop provides the base that can be construed and adapted with own cultural values, traditions and habits. Hip hop is a connecting element seen around the world. Music is the language of their hearts. The photographed musicians want to reveal the truth and fight inequality. Music is their tool for a social change. Looking at the political climate today, we need responsible people, who fight for freedom by speaking out. The artists experienced suffer and pain, but they are passionate enough to do something against it. They want a positive change and music is a great tool to reach hearts. All shown musicians tell their audience about their rights and educate them in the most beneficial manner. Music can have an impressive impact and the message needs to be spread. Just as Fatou Diatta, who is speaking out against the practice of female genital cutting. She is a victim herself and is unfailingly telling that this violence does not have to be endured any longer. Being a former child soldier, Emmanuel Jal says that music became his painkiller. He wants to transform his pain and he uses his music to share stories. Therefore, each artist has an individual background. Yet, all have one message in common; that words are stronger than weapons! The pictures are part of the book Forthright - Stronger than a weapon, which portrays 43 rap musicians from conflict areas around the world. All artists use the music to promote freedom and human rights and fight injustice and oppression. To continue the work we formed a registered association to realize new projects and support young people doing music and speak up.