New interview on June 7th
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Kimeco is Allegra from the group Allegra Dolores. Mix one-part Joy, and one-part pain; add soul – and taste the sound of Allegra Dolores. These Chicago-born biological sisters are a multi-talented force of nature. Dolores is the emcee with overtones of sarcastic humor, while Allegra carries an edgy rocker vibe with an element of negro spiritual. And just when you think you’ve got them figured – out comes the harmony in their singing voices. Molded out of influences that range from Hip Hop to Punk Rock, with soulfully beautiful harmonies, these ladies have been likened to the Jones Girls.
Rhymes: 8Ball feat. Phoenix Johnson “This is Dedicated,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard “Harlem World,” The Coup “I Just Wanna Lay Around All Day in Bed with You,” and MF Doom “Potholderz”
posted: May 17, 2013
For nearly a decade, the ministry of Julian “J.Kwest” DeShazier has been an exploration in the relationship between music and faith. As artist, this Chicago native has used his unique rhythm to tell stories of deep meaning, inside and out of the church. A 2007 Holy Hip Hop Award winner, his song, “So Blessed,” was featured on the Grammy-nominated compilation Holy Hip Hop: Taking the Gospel to the Streets and J has been celebrated as “Living Black History” by Urban Ministries International. In 2012 he and his group, Verbal Kwest, were featured in the OXFAM and Bread for the World-produced documentary The Line, providing a critical voice against poverty and violence in the US. A graduate of Morehouse College and the University of Chicago Divinity School, Julian currently serves as senior pastor of University Church in Chicago, and is a regular to Sojourners, UrbanFaith and Kidult publications.
Rhymes: Outkast “13th Floor/Growing Old,” Common ft. Lauryn Hill “Retrospect for Life,” and Wu-Tang “Triumph.”
posted: Mary 3, 2013
Asad Jafri is a global arts leader, cultural organizer, and multidisciplinary artist with a passion for sustainable social change. As a visionary, Asad recognizes community needs and drives initiatives for local and global change through his love of the arts. As a multidisciplinary artist, Asad utilizes his knowledge in many genres of music, theater, visual art, and dance from around the globe to curate unique captivating fusion productions. He is internationally regarded as an innovator, collaborator, connector and mentor. From 2007 – 2012, Asad served as the Director of Arts and Culture at the Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN). Asad also DJs under the moniker Man-o-Wax and has played at venues across continents, blending music from all over the world. As an individual and with his group – the FEW Collective, Asad has travelled far and wide merging art and social change through innovative mediums. Currently, Asad is based in Kuala Lumpur working with the World Islamic Economic Forum and several other international arts and youth projects. Asad continues on his mission to travel the globe building community and connecting people across cultures through the universal language of art.
Rhymes: Killah Priest “B.I.B.L.E.,” Boogie Down Productions “Why Is That?,” and Pete Rock & C.L. Smoth “T.R.O.Y.”
posted: April 19, 2013
Rapsody is a North Carolina emcee signed with super producer 9th Wonder for Jamla Records. With the release of four projects in just a year and a half and a critically acclaimed debut album in August of 2012, she is slowly establishing herself as a major player in today’s rap game. The Idea of Beautiful was her debut album and XXL quoted that “it might just be on of the best Hip-Hop debuts of late”.
Rhymes: MC Lyte “Poor Georgie,” Method Man ft. Mary J. Blige “All I Need (Remix),” and the Fugees “Ready or Not.”
posted: April 5, 2013
Violence surrounded Zapata when she was growing up. It first touched her mother; helpless to the statistics. Zapata became a number before she could fully comprehend she was a human being. She had to overcome challenges like growing up with single mother, the death of multiple friends, a sibling with special needs, police brutality, and teen parenthood. Zapata used her experiences to break the silence on difficult issues, helping herself and others heal. As a child, it was through hip hop that she was able to understand creative expression. Combining life experiences and the desire to change the world, Zapata has been able to use beats and rhymes as a tool for empowerment. The only femcee in the hip hop group P.U.B.L.I.C. O.F.F.E.N.D.E.R.S. a group recognized for speaking out about all types of oppression. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 6 year old daughter, named after R&B Singer Aaliyah.
Rhymes: R. Kelly ft. Nas “Did You Ever Think? (Remix),” 2Pac “Can You Get Away,” Lauryn Hill “Doo Wop (That Thing),” and Aaliyah “One in a Million.”
posted: March 15, 2013
2012 3Arts Teaching Artist Awardee, writer, performer avery r. young is a Cave Canem Fellow who’s artwork blends phonetics, linguistics, hymns, jazz and hip hop to depict the politics and inspiring attributes attached to the stories of a people. Dubbed “sunday mornin jook-joint,” mr. young’s work merges spiritual and secular aesthetics with dramatic and comedic sensibilities. young has worked as a teaching artist, mentoring and shaping youth in the craft of creative writing and theatre. He has written curriculum for Columbia College – Chicago, Young Leeds Authors, True Star magazine and Chicago Public Schools Art Integration Department. His work has been published in AIMPrint, The Teaching Artist Journal, swaggerzine., Callallou, To Be Left With The Body, Warpland, Coon Bidness, Reverie Review, War Diaries, Make Magazine, The Spaces Between Us and Fingernails Across The Chalkboard. young has performed in the Hip Hop Theatre Festival, Lollapalooza, WordStock and is featured on such compilations as New World Reveal-A-Solution, Audio Truism, Catfish Haven’s Devastator and New Skool Poetics. young has appeared on BET, MTV, ABC and WGN’s Morning News. young is currently a 2012/13 Public Life Artist-In-Residence Program at University of Chicago.
Rhymes: James Brown “Take Some… Leave Some,” Nina Simone “See-Line Woman,” and Gil Scott Heron “The Bottle.”
posted: March 1, 2013
Syreeta Gates has created an unparalleled connection with young people. As the founder of The SWT Life, Curator for History MEETS Hip-Hop, and author of Just Be Cause: AH HA Moments to Inspire the Next Generation of Change Makers (2013), she has inspired, educated and impacted hundreds of American youth in the past seven years. Syreeta was awarded Glamour Magazine’s “Top 20 Under 25” in 2010 and is highlighted in Tony Wagner’s new book Creating Innovators (2012). Her accomplishments as a youth development consultant and philanthropist have established her as one of the most promising cultural leaders to watch.
Rhymes: Lost Boyz “Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz,” Jay-Z “Sweet,” and Nas “Bridging the Gap.”
posted: February 15, 2013
Twin Cities born and raised, DisputeOne (formerly known as Extreme) has been part of the every growing hip-hop culture in Minnesota since anyone can remember.
Rhymes: A Tribe Called Quest “Can I Kick It?,” Ice Cube “A Gangsta’s Fairytale,” Main Source “Lookin’ at the Front Door,” and Main Source “Fakin’ the Funk.”
posted: February 1, 2013
Very few artists have successfully held the title of both rapper and producer. Many try, most fail. But Cabrini-Green originator, Tree, plans to shake things up a bit and introduce the world to his unique pairing of words and beats. The official/unofficial member of Project Mayhem has recently gained national recognition with the release of a slew of projects, including his most recent, Sunday School, named one of the best mixtapes of 2012 by MTV. He was also named one of the Best New Artists by Spin Magazine in August 2012.
Rhymes: 2Pac “Keep Ya Head Up,” Mr. Jinks “Ride 4 U,” and Outkast “Return of the ‘G’.”
posted: January 18, 2013
Marilyn Camacho, also known as Ruby Yo!, is a Puerto Rican emcee, singer, songwriter, and actress raised on Chicago’s south side’s of Pilsen and Gage Park. She is the middle child of 8 children, and started singing, writing poetry, and acting out scenes she wrote by the age of 10. While attending a performing arts high school as a drama/music major, she listened heavily to hip-hop, wrote verses, spit them to her friends and discovered she had a knack for rapping. She went on to continue her theatrical studies in college but dropped out and decided to focus on music full-time. Since, she’s established herself as a known actress/director with her company, UrbanTheater Company (UTC), while still working on music, and performing. She played at SXSW this past year and just released her first official musical offering, The Rubyx Cube EP. The concept album shows her diversity as an artist, as she sings and rhymes over a cool mix of 80′s influenced hip-hop, pop rock, R&B, and spanish rock.
Rhymes: Queen Latifah “U.N.I.T.Y.”, Nas “One Mic”, and Lauryn Hill “When It Hurts So Bad”
posted: January 4, 2013
Speech was born Todd Thomas in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the youngest of parents Robert & Patricia Thomas. Speech started the music group, Arrested Development. Arrested Development won two Grammy Awards (Best new artists & Best rap single 1993) with songs that Speech wrote and produced from the album, “3 years, 5 months and 2 days in the life of…” Speech has released 5 solo albums since 1996 all of which have spawned Top 10 hit singles. Speech became an ordained minister with the Churches of Christ in 2005. Speech says, “My most proud achievement is my marriage to Yolanda, (we’ve been together over 17 years), our two children Jahi and Zoe Thomas and my faith in Jesus, which is my biggest strength & guidance.”
Rhymes: Public Enemy “Rebel Without a Pause”, and De La Soul “The Magic Number”.
Reasons: Click here to listen to Speech’s interview
posted: December 21, 2012
Christopher “Maddog” Thomas is an extremely motivated dancer and youth mentor. Born and raised in Chicago’s Algeld Gardens project homes he was inspired to dance at age 5 by artists such as Micheal Jackson and New Edition. Throughout his youth, he danced with local groups K-Phi 9, House Arrest II, and Second II None. Chris later joined King Charles’ footwork battle clique, Creation and in 2007 became a member of the FootworKINGz for their appearance on Ellen’s Really Big Show in Las Vegas. Maddog was also the official spokesperson for FWK during their appearance on “America’s Got Talent.” In 2007, Christopher joined Kuumba Lynx (KL) and KL has mentored and influenced Christopher’s teaching methods and he has become one of the organizations most sought after teaching artists.
Rhymes: Michael Jackson “Thriller,” Guy “I Like,” and Drake ft. Trey Songz “Successful.”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Maddog’s interview
posted: December 7, 2012
Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Ph.D. is a diversity-oriented, technology-loving intellectual entrepreneur from New York City. An award-winning author, speaker, and educator, Dawkins writes frequently on race, diversity, media, religion, and politics for several outlets, including The Huffington Post, Truthdig, The Root, and Cultural Weekly, among others. Her first book, Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity was released in August 2012. Her second book Eminem: The Real Slim Shady is on the way. She earned her PhD in communication from USC Annenberg, her master’s degrees in humanities from USC and NYU and her bachelor’s degrees in communication arts and honors from Villanova. She served as a visiting scholar at Brown University and currently lectures at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Rhymes: Kurtis Blow “The Breaks,” Digable Planets “Where I’m From,” and Eminem “The Way I Am.”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Dr. Dawkins’ interview
posted: November 16, 2012
Brotha Onaci is a student, teacher, and turntable liberationist who uses DJing to bring progressive change to the world. A former Chicago resident, he helped co-found Sonic Diaspora and the People’s DJs Collective. Now in Philadelphia, Brotha Onaci spins at various venues and events in the area. You can also check him out during Sonic Diaspora at Patty Boom Boom in DC on the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of each month.
posted: November 2, 2012
Lady O is the Creative Director of Spoken Free Entertainment and the host of the Lady *O* Show.
Rhymes: The Pharcyde “Runnin’,” The Roots “Water,” and Jay-Z ft. Pharrell “So Ambitious.”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Lady *O*’s interview
posted: October 19, 2012
An activist by temperament, sixteen years ago with the idea to use “Edutainement” (KRS1) as a tool to inspire activism and collective healing”, Jacinda Bullie co founded Kuumba Lynx (KL) and is a wife and mother of three young warriors.
Rhymes: Roxanne Shante “Roxanne’s Revenge” and Method Man feat. Mary J. Blige “All I Need”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Jacinda’s interview
posted: October 5, 2012
A.M. (Abstrak Mind) has become one of Chicago’s most prolific artists to hit the rap radar in quite some time. Most categorize his music as heartfelt, inspiring, creative, and just flat out good. Musically inspired by musical eliteness such as Jay-Z, Eminem, 2 Pac, Andre 3000, and Jadakiss , A.M. tries to live up to the standards of those who have come before him . The music that A.M. writes channels different mediums from his personal struggles and achievements to the economic imbalance that we all struggle from today. None the less he always has an upbeat spirit and likes to rub off those positive energies through song or if it’s just a casual conversation in person. A.M. just dropped his debut mixtape “A Painted Thought” which has shaken the ground beneath, a lot of those who were sleep on his talents and endless capabilities musically. The Hip Hop world should be very pleased at the direction A.M. will take the art as whole in years to come. So world get ready to brace yourself for something historic!
Rhymes: 2Pac “Keep Ya Head Up” and 2Pac “Brenda’s Got a Baby”
Reasons: Click here to listen to A.M.’s interview
posted: September 21, 2012
Sam Seidel is the author of Hip Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education. He’s been loving–and making–rap music since 1984. Sam has taught in a variety of settings, from first grade to community college, and directed arts programs for young people in prison/affected by incarceration. Sam has been involved in multiple projects aimed at ending the prison industrial complex, including work with Drop the Rock and the Criminal Justice Initiative. Sam now works with national networks of innovative high schools, speaks at education conferences and on college campuses, and writes for The Husslington Post, as well as other publications. Sam serves on the boards of AS220, the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings, and Resource Generation. He is also a recovering sneaker addict.
Rhymes: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five “The Message,” Common Sense “Book of Life,” and Jay-Z “Can I Live”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Sam’s interview
posted: September 7, 2012
Sharrieff Muhammad writes, performs, listens. He is a founding member of Tomorrow Kings Chicago Hip Hop Collective. Sometimes he is known as IL. Subliminal. He is inspired by progressive art. He is an Illinois Arts Council and Fire This Time Grant Recipient. He is a friend, mentor, son, brother, lover, hater, food service worker, comic book collector, song writing aficionado, film geek, and a self proclaimed hip hop historian.
Rhymes: Eric B. & Rakim “Microphone Fiend,” Public Enemy “Fight the Power,” A Tribe Called Quest ft Leaders of the New School “Scenario,” Cypress Hill “How I Could Just Kill a Man,” Outkast “Elevators (Me & You),” 2Pac “So Many Tears,” De La Soul “Stakes is High,” Notorious B.I.G. “Everyday Struggle,” and Common “Resurrection (Large Professor Remix)”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Sharrieff’s interview
posted: August 17, 2012
Alexander Fruchter is the founder and current EIC of hip hop music and culture site “Ruby Hornet” as well as co-owner of the independent record label Closed Sessions and an adjunct at Columbia College. He is a Hyde Park native, graduate of Indiana University, lover of the White Sox and Hip Hop culture.
Rhymes: Beastie Boys ft. Q-Tip”Get it Together,” Mos Def “Hip-Hop,” and Kanye West ft GLC and Consequence “Spaceship”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Alexander’s interview
posted: August 3, 2012
Having never been a gangsta herself, Ebony A. Utley, Ph.D., confidently argues that most gangsta rappers have not been gangstas either. In her critically-acclaimed book, Rap and Religion: Understanding The Gangsta’s God, Utley argues that a gangsta is not a real person, but an identity donned by hip hop artists to establish themselves as authoritative figures. Incorporating her expertise in rap music, religion, and urban history, Utley explains how a God-sanctioned gangsta identity can be empowering.
Rhymes: Snoop Doggy Dog “Murder Was the Case,” Lauryn Hill “I Used to Love Him,” and The Coup “Mindfuck”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Dr. Utley’s interview
posted: July 20, 2012
DJ/Producer/All-around Hip-Hop junkie and collector since the early 80′s. Started out with a Fearless Four record, a fisher price turntable and a double cassette boom box making “pause” tapes, as we used to call them back in the day. Inspired by mixtape pioneers like Kid Capri, Action PAC, DJ S&S, Tony Touch, DJ Double R & G-Bo The Pro, as well as the Golden Era of Hip Hop radio (Mr. Magic, Red Alert, Chuck Chillout, Stretch & Bob).
Rhymes: Gang Starr “Work,” and Diz Gabran “Brotha”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Bazooka Joe’s interview
posted: July 6, 2012
Sage Xaxua Morgan-Hubbard is the new Academic Outreach Coordinator in the School of Fine Arts at Columbia College Chicago currently housed in the Dance Department. She was the cipher organizer for Words, Beats & Life’s Midwest Hip Hop Teach-In “Remixing the Art of Social Change” and the Outreach Director of Young Chicago Authors. She earned her MA in Performance Studies at Northwestern University and is a graduate of Brown University where she studied “Performance Studies: Socially Conscious Art of the Everyday” and Ethnic Studies. Sage is a poet, activist and teacher from Washington, D.C. She is the founder of WORD! spoken word artists and activists, a former DC poetry slam coach and one of the original members of Spoken Resistance and the performance group Sol y Soul.
Rhymes: Public Enemy “Fight the Power,” Queen Latifah “U.N.I.T.Y.,” and Arrested Development “People Everyday.”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Sage’s interview
posted: June 15, 2012
Pancho McFarland, PhD, is a former b-boy, current hip hop head, professor of sociology at Chicago State University, author, martial artist and father. His book, Chicano Rap: Gender and Violence in the Postindustrial Barrio, is the first book written about Mexican Americans and hip hop. His next book, Hip Hop and U.S. Mexicans, will be published in 2013. He is an activist within the food justice and local food movements.
Rhymes: Sugarhill Gang “Rapper’s Delight,” Kid Frost “La Raza,” and Thief Sicario “Amerika”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Pancho’s interview.
posted: June 1st, 2012
A 30 year old Chicago rapper and an employee with the Youth Advocate Program.
Rhymes: Redman “Tonight’s da Night,” Da Youngstas ft. Mobb Deep “Bloodshed & War,” and Kane & Abel “Black Jesus”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Vic’s interview.
posted: May 18th, 2012
Leida “Lady Sol” Villegas-Garcia is a street dance professional from Chicago who is recognized globally as a dance manager, choreographer, and youth arts educator. Lady Sol’s credits include work on MTV, BET, UPN, NBC, TBS and WGN, alongside super-stars Busta Rhymes, Wyclef Jean, Cedric the Entertainer, Ellen, & Heavy D. Lady Sol’s career highlights include the Management & Creative Direction of Chicago’s now internationally recognized, FootworKINGz. Lady Sol is also co-founding member of Kuumba Lynx, a Chicago based non-profit arts organization that empowers young people through the cultivation of Hip-Hop arts. She actively develops and teaches dance programs in Chicago for Kuumba Lynx, Urban Gateways and After School Matters. “Young people motivate me and I would like the end result of all my efforts to focus on empowering urban youth,” says the passionate Latina.
Rhymes: LL Cool J “I Need Love,” Heavy D & The Boyz “Now That We Found Love,” and the Fugees ”Killing Me Softly”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Lady Sol’s interview
posted: May 4, 2012
David Stovall is Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Over the past eleven years, he has been involved in social justice education efforts in Chicago Public Schools and across the country. Currently he works with faculty and students at Social Justice High School in Chicago.
Rhymes: Public Enemy “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” and Organized Konfusion “Releasing Hypnotical Gases”
Reasons: Click here to listen to David’s interview
posted: April 20, 2012
Imagine, if you can, the horrible feelings of dealing with death; not just once, but on many occasions. Imagine, if you can, having your best friend die in your arms, because there wasn’t a damn thing you could do to stop it. Imagine being shot for the first time, at the tender age thirteen, while you vigorously fought mind over matter in order to bear the pain. Imagine, if you can, being shot seven more times before you were even old enough to vote; once in the chest, three times in the left side, once in the right knee, once in your lower back and the worst being a shotgun blast to your upper shoulders and head. Now imagine that everything stated herein has actually happened to one man. A man that wages a constant battle with society just to prove that a man can change. A man that truly deserves to be called a man. That man is me…and this is my story.
Rhymes: 2Pac “Keep Ya Head Up” and Ice Cube “Us”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Justin’s interview
posted: April 6th, 2012
This interview and songs explains the growth and evolution of myself from a teenager to young adult and now the present. The impact and my interpretations of each song represent major chapters and changes in my life that have given me experiences that I will never forget. Never would I have ever thought that I would be this far just from this dance known as “b-boying” or “breakdancing” but I know I was put on this Earth to change the world of people’s lives and especially my own. Catch me teaching, training, competing, performing, collaborating, and cyphering around Chicago and the rest of the world through my affiliations – Thee Authentic Fewsion Dance, Hip Hop Chicago, Phaze II Crosstown Crew, Awesome Style Konnectionz, Latin Street Dance Academy, Chi-Caribena, and Kuumba Lynx. Peace….
Rhymes: KRS-One “Step Into a World,” Korn “Alone I Break,” K-Os “Superstar Pt. Zero,” and Nas “Carry on Tradition”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Kid Jungle’s interview
posted: March 16, 2012
I dreamed of writing songs and poems, sharing them on stage, and finding creative ways to affect change in my world… And when I found hip-hop, those dreams became a reality! Or maybe hip-hop found me! Either way, it was a match made in heaven and from the day we met I have never looked back. Hip-hop has given me a platform, a voice, a vehicle. Hip-hop has given me freedom… The freedom to live my dreams! Thank God I found her.
Rhymes: Public Enemy “Burn Hollywood Burn,” Eric B. & Rakim “Chinese Arithmetic”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Amina’s interview
posted: March 2, 2012
Hannaan “HB Sol the Policy King” Joplin has been described by many as that special, once-in-a-lifetime emcee–gritty, yet intelligent; witty, yet upfront and brutally candid; smooth, yet fiery; universal, yet straight from the block. He works with Chicago producers AntonGenius and Grant Parks. Look for newly released material from HB in 2012! He currently works as a Career Coach with the Cara Program.
Rhymes: Eric B. & Rakim “Follow the Leader,” Scarface “The Wall,” and Nas “NY State of Mind”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Hannaan’s interview
posted: February 17, 2012
Nate Mathews is a student of African and Middle East history currently pursuing his doctorate at Northwestern University. He is the author of the poetry collection, River of Desire, Ocean of Love, and founder of the website Azanian Sea.
Rhymes: Boogie Down Productions “Blackman in Effect,” Common ft Cee-Lo “G.O.D. (Gaining One’s Definition),” and Professor Jay “Zali Za Mentali”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Nate’s interview
posted: February 3, 2012
Shannon Matesky is an artist, activist, educator from Berkeley CA. She has been seen on stages across the country as a spoken word artist as well as featured in numerous documentaries and seen on TV on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. Shannon’s acting credits include working with companies such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Hypocrites, The Inconvenience and many others. She has taught with numerous organizations such as Youth Speaks, Young Chicago Authors, and Step-Up Women’s Network. Shannon also works on developing theatrical pieces using personal narrative included her solo show She Think She Grown. She currently resides in Chicago.
Rhymes: TLC “What About Your Friends?,” Lauryn Hill “Everything is Everything,” and Eve “Love is Blind”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Shannon’s interview
posted: January 20, 2012
Chicago born and raised, Jasson Perez is a community representative for SEIU Local 73 as well as one of the members of the rap group BBU.
Rhymes: 2Pac “Keep Ya Head Up” and Outkast “Rosa Parks”
Reasons: Click here to listen to Jasson’s interview
posted: January 6, 2012