It must be something in the music and culture in the Bull City. For the second time in three years, a homegrown hip-hop artist has announced a run for a political office in Durham.

Today, Joshua Gunn, who performs under the moniker J. Gunn, went on social media to declare his run for a city council seat in the upcoming election.

In a way, Gunn follows in the footsteps of Pierce Freelon, the Durham hip-hop artist who ran for mayor in 2017. Like Freelon, Gunn has no previous political experience, yet both candidacies offer a narrative that indicates a shift toward politics as a means of social engagement by the current hip-hop generation.

“My entire life has been about representing my city,” Gunn stated on Friday in an Instagram post. “I’ve had the chance to tour the world making music, and making sure everyone knew about the greatest city in the world; Durham, NC. This community has given me so much, and has helped make every one of my dreams come true.”

Gunn, who graduated from Jordan High School before studying psychology at North Carolina A&T, notes the “rapid changes” that have led to “amazing things” and “challenges” for some residents. But he points out that the city’s ongoing transformation has not benefited “all Durhamites.”

With ten candidates, including three incumbents in the race, Gunn says that his campaign faces an uphill battle.

“I will need all of your help to restore balance to our city government and ensure the city we all love works for all of us,” he says. “Beyond theory, beyond ideology, it’s time to move beyond arguments on politics, and get back to doing the work of the people.”

Two years ago, Gunn lit up social media with a volatile feature on G Yamazawa’s “North Cack,” which has garnered more than a million views on YouTube and become the de facto North Carolina hip-hop anthem.

On Friday, Gunn said that his presence on the city council will give longtime residents who were born and raised here a voice at the table.

“As of today, there are no Durham natives on our city council, no one with the generations of lived experience necessary to provide proper perspective on our community’s history, and to inform our future,” Gunn stated in the social media post. “This perspective is necessary to bring balance to our local government and ensure that the voice of the people is amplified in every single decision that impacts us all. The people in Durham are not just statistics or news stories for me, you are my family members, my friends, my classmates, my homies, my people; and it is you that I am fighting for.”

Contact staff writer Thomasi McDonald at 

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