Medellín Hip Hop Voices – Medellín, a city tucked in the center of the Aburrá Valley in the north Colombian state of Antioquia, has undergone dramatic changes over the past several decades. The city was once plagued by the daily violent conflict between paramilitary forces, drug cartels and hired street gangs that managed it’s many hillside neighborhoods. Currently Medellín is not devoid of the problems that have peppered it’s past however the city has collectively made forward strides towards improving the standard of living through large scale infrastructure developments and the expansion of the arts. Hip hop communities have sprung up in many of the neighbourhoods that vanish into the steep mountains that skirt Medellín’s downtown. These neighborhoods  were often used as drug trafficking routes out of the city or as strategic strongholds for gangs that were secretly operating under the guidance of paramilitary forces. Hip hop has become an important outlet to speak up about Medellín’s past, present and future. This voice has not been clear of opposition though as the rap community has suffered many casualties as a result of powerful groups who were threatened by young artists using their voice to tell their own narratives through music, as well as by the momentum they were picking up from fans.   I recently had the chance to join Medellín’s hip hop artists and activists to hear their stories about their formative years in the city, how music entered their lives, the challenges they faced as artists and how hip hop is effectively changing the dynamic of what life is like for kids growing up on the urban fringes in one of Colombia’s most dynamic cities.