Courtesy of RA-BE 333
Water is an essential resource for every living thing on this planet. Humans can't go more than three days without it. We also need it to grow top-shelf cannabis without contaminants, especially under today's stringent testing regulations. But, if the past year has shown us anything, clean water is becoming increasingly scarce — around the world, but also in the United States. Thankfully, there are people dedicated to creating access to clean drinking water and using art to reach the masses about this issue.
Rob Ball, who goes by RA-BE 333, a high-vibe MC originally hailing from New Jersey, is using music as a vehicle to propel funds toward non-profits dedicated to delivering clean water to economically disadvantaged regions of the world.
"What's going on is absurd with the power of our resources, our interconnectivity, and the fact of how many people are still struggling to find access [to clean drinking water]," said Ball in a phone interview with MERRY JANE. He will be speaking on using music, specifically hip-hop, as a tool to create global shifts at Lightning In a Bottle Music Festival this weekend. "I feel like I have an opportunity to contribute to the conversation and to help create action around this issue."
Ball has been on a global clean-water trip for the better portion of the last decade. He launched a project called Tap the Flow 24 in 2016, where he brings together groups of musicians, producers, singers, MCs, visual artists, and videographers to conceive, create, and complete original songs, music videos, and visual art pieces in 24 hours to generate funds for creating access clean water.
"Once I became informed about how many hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people don't have access to clean water, I couldn't believe how many people weren't aware of the issue," Ball said. "I couldn't just know this was happening and not try and do something about it. I had to start this project…I didn't know much about clean water non-profits, but I knew I coud figure it out. And I knew I could tap into my connections in the creative community. I put this project out to three different people who were instantly onboard."
The last production, which was released in 2019, of Tap the Flow 24 was the 10th song, video, and art piece of the project. It has over 1.5 million views on YouTube and raised enough money to fund two separate clean water systems in Bali, Indonesia. Now, 750 children have consistent access to clean water thanks to the implementation of sustainable water systems in schools.
"There's been a really special energy with each of these sessions," he said. "Everyone's shown up like, 'I want to do the best thing that we can do in this next 24 hours, whatever that looks like.'"
You might be reading all this thinking, ok — great, but what does this have to do with weed? Ball explains that his relationship with the plant (and other consciousness-altering psychoactives) massively impacted his mind, allowing him to think outside the box regarding how he could use his music to create an impact. It thus led to the inception of Tap the Flow 24.
"Cannabis was beyond instrumental in getting me to where I am mentally and creatively today," he said, noting that he's currently on a break from daily consumption. "It merges the hemispheres of the brain and opens up cross-lateral thinking. It really activated so much of my creativity and my voice in a way that I'm in absolute reverence to [cannabis]."
Having mystical experiences from consuming psychedelics also helped Ball tap into a visionary mindset that allowed him to believe that he could create an impact in the world.
"Psychedelics allow you to viscerally tap into possibility consciousness and see the potential of every single moment, and see them as possible. When we are gifted these visions, they might be our work in the real world to bring forth."
Thematically, hip-hop has a rich history of tackling complex issues like civil rights, criminal justice, and racial equity. But we rarely see music from the genre about the intersection of environmental justice and human rights. In fact, making music about issues like clean water that effectively catalyzes tangible change for nearly 1000 humans is basically unheard of. Vic Mensa is one of the only other recent hip-hop artists moving to bring clean water to people in Ghana. (He's another artist who loves psychedelics!) We love it, and that's why we're celebrating it.
If you're interested in seeing RA-BE 333 speak on how to use music as a vehicle to make change, he'll be at Lightning In a Bottle — a transformative music festival built around electronic music, education, yoga, and art — in Bakersfield, CA., this weekend.