Two of hip-hop's most socially conscious players, Russell Simmons and Mos Def, are stepping into the spotlight and speaking out against war in their own respective television ads — both of which debut on Friday (February 14).

In the ad that features Simmons, graphic battle scenes and images of maimed children and dead bodies accompany his words. The music mogul insists tougher United Nations inspections can disarm Iraq, contests President Bush's claims that war is urgent, and reminds youths, "It's the old who get us into war; it's the young who end up in body bags."

Mos Def's spot opens with the rapper holding a red pen in front of his face and saying, "The pen is mightier than the sword." Mos Def then withdraws from the pen a scroll that features a graph of government spending. The column marked "Pentagon" towers high above those marked "children's health," "K-12 education," "reduced reliance on oil," "Head Start" and "world hunger." "I think we've got better things to fight for," he says before encouraging citizens to write to Congress in protest of the looming war with Iraq.  

The television ads are the latest in a series of anti-war spots sponsored by True Majority, an organization started by Ben & Jerry's ice cream founder Ben Cohen. The commercials can be seen on True Majority's Web site (www.truemajority.com), along with earlier ads done by actresses Susan Sarandon, Janeane Garofalo, Tyne Daly and Amy Brenneman.

The two 30-second commercials will run for one week on systems that carry MTV and BET in New York and Los Angeles.

— Kristin Roth

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