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Last night, VH1’s Hip Hop Honors concert program paid homage to Rap-A-Lot Records founder J. Prince.

Tonight, that same man will use his 5th Ward neighborhood community center to honor the Prince of Peace.

The event, a summer kickoff of Hip Hop Hope Tuesdays, takes place this evening, June 8, from 7 – 9pm at the Prince Complex located at 3000 Jensen Drive.

Hip Hop Hope Tuesdays (HHHT) is a weekly youth service designed to uplift, enlighten, and encourage young people entrenched in urban rap music culture.

Much Luvv Records founder Bobby “Tre9” Herring launched the first Hip Hop Hope event in partnership with Rap-a-Lot Records on Easter weekend 2009.

“A lot of rappers mention giving back to the neighborhoods they came from but very few actually do,” Herring said. “Talk is cheap, so with Hip Hop Hope Tuesdays, we want to show that the Houston rap community can make good on our word and bring positivity to the parts of our city that need it most.”

The Prince Complex was founded by J. Prince who is from the 5th Ward and developed the non-profit youth center over a decade ago to offer a “Pathway to Empowerment.” Prince and Rap-A-Lot affiliated MCs including Willie D (Geto Boys), Bun B (UGK), Trae da Truth, and 007 (5th Ward Boys) are also scheduled to participate on the June 8 kickoff event. Additionally, many members of Houston’s Christian rap community will be there in full force.

Andre “007” Barnes is a 5th Ward native and frequent HHHT volunteer. His story is a perfect example of how positive opportunities and role models (like those found at Hip Hop Hope Tuesdays) can lead to dramatic life change.

In the mid-90’s 007 gained fame and notoriety as a founding member of the hard core gangsta rap crew the 5th Ward Boyz. Unlike many of today’s street rappers, 007 was never a “studio gangsta.” His lyrics reflected his actual life. That included a murder case for shooting and killing a man trying to steal his car (later ruled a justifiable homicide) and armed robbery as well as selling and abusing drugs.

Eventually greed consumed 007. After a European tour in the year 2000, he was caught robbing three banks and sentenced to more than four years in prison. Upon release he caught another case that earned him an additional 15 months behind bars.

It was there, in jail once again, that Andre Barnes had his “Road to Damascus” experience. Finally encountering and understanding the true grace of God through the sacrifice of His one and only son, Barnes began to change.

When he walked out of the yard this time around, it was with a renewed mind. Barnes pursued ministry, established Taking Back the Streets, and opened Blessings Christian Bookstore with his wife and family.

Now a new creature, 007 has returned to the mic with a much different message.

“I’m just trying to show young people that you don’t have to let street life consume and define you,” Barnes said. “And Hip Hop Hope Tuesdays is the perfect place for me to share that with others.”

Here’s a sample video of what past Hip Hop Hope Tuesday events looked like.

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