A Medellin rapper and community leader killed in 2012 is being honored by a New York and Medellin fashion brand.
The “El Duke” collection of fashion company Miguelo Romano is inspired by rapper and peace promoter Elider Varela, better known locally as “El Duke.” The campaign is supported by Colombia Reports.
El Duke lived in and died in Medellin’s 13th District, one of the most violent areas of Colombia’s second largest city.
In spite of his violent surroundings, the rapper’s songs were centered around promoting peace and respect, while “El Duke” was actively involved in the local YMCA and teaching children how to express themselves through music.
The rapper was one of at least nine rap artists who were assassinated in Medellin in a period that proved traumatic for the local hip hop community.
|“We want to make sure that his legacy continues, we want to make people aware of who this great figure was and what he did for Medellin.”|
“We want to make sure that his legacy continues, we want make people aware of who this great figure was and what he did for Medellin,” Michael Puscar of Miguelo Romano told Colombia Reports.
To fund the design, the initial production, and to spread awareness of El Duke’s message on peace and respect, the fashion brand began a crow-funding campaign earlier this week. The fashion label is hoping to collect $10,000, said Puscar.
According to editor-in-chief Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports supports the campaign out of respect for a local artist whose paths crossed with that of the website on several occasions.
“El Duke was one of the volunteers of the YMCA that operates in the Comuna 13. Colombia Reports had worked closely with this organization as part of a long-term investigation on the violence in that area. The guy’s been to my home. He sat on the couch I sit on when watching TV,” Alsema said.
|“El Duke’s death was particularly devastating because of his explicit support for peace. As nobody knew exactly why he was killed we feared his death implied a threat to all who publicly oppose violence.”|
According to the journalist, “El Duke’s death was particularly devastating because of his explicit support for peace. As nobody knew exactly why he was killed we feared his death implied a threat to all who publicly oppose violence.”
Instead of using guns and weapons, the rap artist endorsed young Colombians to grab a microphone and channel their emotions through art rather than violence, something which grabbed the clothing line’s attention and spurred the initiative.
“You can kill the messenger, but you can’t kill the message. This was a guy promoting peace in a neighborhood where other rappers were killed, but he stayed in the neighborhood to try to be a community leader, a positive spark for people in the community who fought everyday to escape poverty, violence, and drugs,” Puscar said.
Part of the expected revenue will go to the widow of El Duke, Carolina Lopez, and their two daughters.
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- Interview with Adriaan Alsema
- Interview with Michael Puscar