NEW YORK — Recording industry veteran Charles Fisher remembers what it was like being a teenager without direction in his life.
It landed him in trouble with the law.
Nearly three decades later, the former manager to rap star-turned-actor LL Cool J, who also discovered multi-platinum R&B singer R. Kelly, says his brushes with the law changed his life.
Fisher aims to use that experience and his influence in the hip-hop music industry to create opportunities for youths to keep them from a similar fate.
Fisher, 47, who has worked more than 20 years in the music business as a producer, manager and talent scout, recently founded the nonprofit Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council to champion youth causes and help eliminate negative images in rap.
"Our mission is to better prepare students and young adults for the obstacles they encounter daily," said Fisher. "It is important that we call on the hip-hop industry to step up to the plate and provide the resources needed to improve the social, political and economic conditions in their school, home and community."
When the first National Hip-Hop Youth Summit convenes on Friday at York College here, Fisher, the lead organizer, will be joined by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, local elected officials and other people in the rap industry to discuss ways adults and youths can work together to improve the image and culture of hip-hop.
The theme of the two-day summit, "Using the Influence of Hip-Hop to Empower Our Youth," will be used to stress education and self-pride, Fisher says. "As adults and role models, it is our obligation to make them aware that without a quality education, proper training or marketable skills, they are assured low wages, public assistance or a life of crime."
A series of workshops and seminars will allow youths to meet and learn from celebrities, athletes and entertainment personalities. About 800 people are expected to participate. Admission is by invitation only.
Curtis L. Taylor is a reporter for Newsday, a Tribune company.