Iraqi hip-hop group touring, training in America

DETROIT (AP) — Hip-hop diplomacy is headed to the United States from Iraq.

Six members of the First Step Crew are traveling next month to New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Detroit. The dancers and rappers are part of the Youth Excellence on Stage Academy Iraq, a program of the nonprofit American Voices with the U.S. Embassy Baghdad.

The First Step Crew will train and perform. Organizers say shows will reflect struggles of Iraqi Hip Hop artists to perform in a “hostile environment.”

American Voices Executive Director John Ferguson says members have diverse backgrounds and believe hip hop can promote “peaceful co-existence” among Iraqi youth.

The group visits the Arab American National Museum in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn on Oct. 20 and Detroit’s Wayne State University the next day.

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