Terrence J is arguably one of the most powerful people in Hip Hop, at only 25 years-old. The host of BET's 106 & Park does not take that placement lightly. He told HipHopDX this month, "I've been put into a powerful position. I think, for a while, I didn't realize the power of the position that I had. It took something happening with me - seeing how the things I say out of my mouth will be widespread, if I say the wrong thing."
After a challenging year on the show, that saw a shift in co-hosts, Terrence believed and used the upcoming election as a way to re-brand his position in entertainment and his power as a role-model. "With this year's election, I really started feeling a little hypocritical just being on television, telling people to register to vote. I didn't feel as though I was doing enough, I wasn't getting my hands dirty. I wasn't worthy to be in that position. I really wanted to do something to make a change."
Traveling by car with his brother, this past summer Terrence launched Crank That Vote, a campaign to register 100,000 American voters. The host and actor revealed his thinking in the effort, "We were just not gonna come back to New York City till we got 100,000 people registered to vote." Stopping for stints in New York, Newark, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans and points in between, Terrence says the labor helped him as much as his cause. "I really got back in touch with God. When I got this position, I would talk to God every single day and pray every single night. Then, once you get into that position, you start getting busy, and [forget]."
With the election just over a month away, Terrence stresses this won't be his last push for activism. "I might tackle HIV in America, I might tackle poverty, I might tackle something else." Having recently inked endorsement deals with McDonald's and Rockport, the host stresses that it's not just dollars and cents that makes sense. "I also want to do free projects, like Crank That Vote," acknowledging financial assistance from BET, as well as mentorship from Russell Simmons and Diddy in his efforts. Humbling himself and his image, the afternoon host adds, "The intent of this is to get people to say, 'If corny Terrence from 106 & Park can 100,000 people, well let me get 1,000 people from my high school.'"
Even down to its name, this voter registration campaign may appeal to a different generation and audience than previous ones from Diddy or T.I. "Soulja Boy, whether you like him or not, you've got to respect him with his movement with 'Crank Dat Superman,'" With legions of first time voters having watched Terrence the last three years, this is an opportune time. "The whole 'crank dat' movement picked up where the Crunk movement left off. The movement is the young people. It's the young people that make everything else cool. When I meet them, a lot of times, they respect the elder statesmen of Hip Hop."
The effort helped Terrence meet his fans, as well as Americans unaware of him or the hit TV show. He recalled to DX knocking every door in Chicago's "Wild 100s" as well as New Orleans' famed Calliope Projects, home to Master P and others.
Although joking that he may be seen by some as "corny," Terrence is not such in the eyes of Diddy. The host was recently honored to be one of the faces of Sean John Clothing in the company's tenth year. "Sean John is celebrating its tenth year right now. Ten years ago, I was 15 years old, and couldn't really afford it. I remember the first Sean John shirt that came out. I remember looking at the kids that could have it, and wishin' I could buy it. To be in the game 10 years is a true testament, not just to Diddy, but to where Hip Hop is and the culture." Terrence will appear in print campaigns beginning this fall.
With a renewed excitement to his position and a redefining purpose and work ethic, the young anchor of teen BET admits, "I feel like an intern again."