Originally published in The Patriot-News on March 23, 2012.
Harrisburg might be making headlines for violence and debt, but there’s more to it than that.
That’s the message behind “I Am Harrisburg,” a hip-hop song written for the people of the city to rally behind.
Written by local rappers and producers All Steezy, Jaymes, Zach, Pacino, Bobbo and Supa Dupa Sultan, “I Am Harrisburg” is meant to be an anthem for the city.
“I just hope it brings people together,” said All Steezy, the man behind the song’s hook and chorus. “We don’t have to be against each other.”
He cited the song’s creation as an example. “We all came from different places, we all came from different groups, and we all came together to make this song.”
The song was written last May but its music video was posted this month.
When it made the video and the song, the group had no idea that the month it posted it would be known for violent crimes nor that Harrisburg would be named the 20th most dangerous city in the United States by NeighborhoodScout.com.
Just as the media was flooded with reports of shootings, stabbings and robberies, YouTube lit up with a song about the positive side of Harrisburg.
“It was perfect timing,” Pacino said.
The video features Harrisburg locales like Market Street, Sea Bash and the Capitol, while the lyrics mention Mayor Linda Thompson, LeSean McCoy and Middleswarth chips. Even former Mayor Stephen R. Reed gets a mention.
Filmed like a block party, the music video features people of different ethnicities sporting “I Am Harrisburg” T-shirts and dancing.
“We just wanted to put together a campaign and involve the city as a whole, not just one ethnicity or one class or one set of people,” said Supa Dupa, who shot and edited the video.
The video, which has more than 48,000 hits on YouTube, has received mixed comments. Some have blasted the city and the rappers, like YouTube user Badboynic1010 who wrote: “You have to be an idiot to rep? Harrisburg. Im NEVER forgetting where I came from and I know that where I’m going is not going to be staying in Harrisburg. The city has gone to … and you got idiots repping it like its worth something.”
Others have applauded the group for showcasing Harrisburg, such as YouTube user geminijlw, who wrote: “What a wonderful video, proud of all who made it, support it, and those that can only show their discrimination, go to … no place else for you to go, because those in the video will take up the room you might have. Discrimination is ugly, this video is beautiful. Thanks to all of you who went [out] of your way to do something for Harrisburg. Love it, love it, it is beautiful.”
Some are indifferent to the song, like the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau.
“It isn’t on our radar,” said Rick Dunlap, director of public relations and communications for the bureau. “We have no opinion on it.”
The people behind “I Am Harrisburg” sincerely stand by the city, praising it for its diversity, small size and neighborhood feel.
Supa Dupa, in particular, loves the city at 2 a.m., when the clubs have shut down, but several eateries are still open and the crowd floods into the street.
“It kind of turns into a mini-South Beach,” he said. “There was a time when they would shine just a big light out there. You’d just see everybody walking out streets. Everybody was out there, black, white, all races.”
But at the same time, the rappers are cognizant to the city’s problem. And they see a solution: unity.
“When a city comes together, it’s unstoppable,” Zach said.