NEWARK, N.J. — Dupre Kelly, a rapper and media executive who grew up in Newark, announced he’s running for councilman-at-large in the city’s west ward Thursday afternoon. The other members of his group, Lords of the Underground, were at this side. They won a BET award for best rap group in 1993.
Since then, he’s worked as a co-CEO for 211 Media and co-founded a non-profit group.
“As a councilman, I will utilize my years in the entertainment business to expand our arts and cultural industry in Newark to hire more, to empower more, to do more for our great city,” he told a crowd of several dozen people.
Kelly made this announcement in front of his childhood home. The city’s west ward is littered with dilapidated and boarded up buildings, unlike Newark’s central ward which is undergoing a revitalization. Whole Foods and luxury apartments have lured out-of-towners to Newark in recent months, and more development is coming for the city’s central ward, which is also home to the Prudential Center and Newark Penn Station.
But Kelly spoke specifically to the Newarkers living far away from that economic boom.
“I’m running for every ward, every ward that feels they’ve been walled off from the rest of the city,” he said.
Kelly’s main running platform includes funding for youth programs, civic engagement, arts and culture.
Specifically, he pointed to the Mayor’s summer youth jobs program, which hired 2,500 young people. However, 5,000 applied. Half were turned away due to a lack of funding. He also wants to use arts and culture, specifically hip hop, to encourage Newarkers to get civically engaged.
“In this community, we haven’t always made the best choices. But one thing I do know is that when people love their city, they can change it,” he said.
Newark’s local election will be held on May 8.