Rahiel Tesfamariam


Rahiel Tesfamariam

Rahiel Tesfamariam is a social activist, public theologian, writer and speaker. She is the Founder and Publisher of Urban Cusp  a cutting-edge online lifestyle magazine highlighting progressive urban culture, faith, social change and global awareness. She is also a former columnist for The Washington Post.
Rahiel holds degrees from Stanford University and Yale University, where she graduated magna cum laude and was the inaugural William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Scholar for Peace and Justice. Prior to attending seminary at Yale, she served as the youngest editor-in-chief in the history of The Washington Informer, at age 23.
Before launching Urban Cusp in 2011, Rahiel directed a D.C. citywide juvenile justice reform effort where she oversaw case management for 500 youth, trained 40 nonprofit organizations and managed a $4M annual budget. She has traveled the world on various delegations and humanitarian projects and has spoken at prestigious universities and historic churches nationwide. Rahiel is also one of forty women published in the book Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith.
Rahiel has received several national fellowships and awards, including the National Association of Black Journalist’s “Salute to Excellence,” National Action Network’s “Who’s Got Next,” IMPACT Leader of the Year and EnVest’s “Top 40 Under 40.” Black Girls Rock featured Rahiel on their 2013 BET awards show, saluting “her tireless dedication to global issues, community activism and youth advocacy.”
Responding to the 2014 Ferguson decision, Rahiel led a national Black Friday economic boycott supported by dozens of celebrities called #NotOneDime. As a leading generational voice, Rahiel has appeared in countless media outlets, including The New York Times, Forbes, MSNBC, Ebony, Black Enterprise and more. Most recently, Rahiel was featured in Ebony and Revolt TV amongst “Leaders of the New School” and was one of six women Essence Magazine named “The New Civil Rights Leaders.”

Rhymes: Jay-Z “Where I’m From,” Mos Def “Umi Says,” Sweet Honey in the Rock “Ella’s Song”


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Wade Davis

Wade Davis

Wade Davis

Wade Davis is a thought leader, advocate, writer, public speaker and educator on gender, race and orientation equality. Davis played for the Tennessee Titans, the Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks, as well as for two different teams within the NFL Europe league. In 2014, Davis began consulting for the NFL to ensure that LGBT athletes have a safe and affirming space.

In his role as Executive Director of the You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to ending discrimination, sexism and homophobia in sports, Davis works to develop curriculum, programming, training and conversations that are focused on inclusion and diversity. The You Can Play Project has partnerships and/or relationships with organizations and leagues including the NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, WWE and the Canadian Olympic Committee.

As an educator, Davis is currently an Adjunct Professor at the NYU School of Professional Studies Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media and Business. He has also served as an adjunct professor at the Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration, and has lectured on the intersections of race, sexuality, gender and sports at universities nationally and internationally. Davis is the former assistant director of academic enrichment and work readiness for The Hetrick-Martin Institute, where he taught at-promise LGBT youth how to define success.

In 2013, with co-founder Darnell Moore, Davis created the YOU Belong Initiative, an organization that offers LGBTQ and straight-allied youth a series of comprehensive sports instruction and leadership development clinics. As part of YOU Belong, Davis also began the Speakers’ Collective, which provides support, promotion and a sense of community for LGBTQ professionals of color.

During the 2012 Presidential election, Davis was an official LGBT Surrogate for President Obama, and is currently a U.S. State Department Speaker Specialist. In this role, Davis continues to travel nationally and internationally to address issues of gender, race, sexuality and class in the interest of promoting diversity and inclusion in all level of amateur and professional sports.

Davis is a frequent guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, CNN, ESPN and BET. His essays and writings have appeared in media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, the Advocate, Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Guardian and the White House Blog. Davis has spoken at and/or provided workshops and trainings at over 100 colleges, universities and corporations nationally and internationally including, Stanford University, Penn State University, Syracuse University, Texas A&M University, Fox, Pepsi Co, JP Morgan Chase and Deutsch Bank.

Since his retirement from the NFL, Davis has owned InMotion Media, a media business through a partnership with The New York Times. Davis was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and graduated from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In 2014, Davis received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Northeastern University for his leadership and ongoing efforts to eradicate homophobia and sexism in athletics.

Rhymes: Jay-Z “Lucky Me,” LaBelle “It Took A Long Time,” Kendrick Lamar “Sing About Me/I’m Dying of Thirst,” and Erykah Badu “Bag Lady”



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You Can Play Project



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Mychal Denzel Smith

Mychal Denzel Smith

Mychal Denzel Smith

Mychal Denzel Smith is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute, contributing writer for The Nation Magazine, blogger for TheNation.com, as well as a contributor to Feministing.com and Salon. His work as appeared online for publications such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Gawker, and many others. As a social commentator, he has appeared on MSNBC, Al Jazeera America, CNN, NPR, BBC radio, HuffPost Live, and more. In 2014, he was named to named by Ebony Magazine’s as “What’s Next” in politics and civil rights, as well as The Root 100 list of most influential African-Americans, and nominated for a National Association of Black Journalists award for online commentary. He was among Planned Parenthhood’s 99 Dreamkeepers for Black History Month in 2015, and made the list of New Social Justice Leaders by Sean Combs’ Revolt TV.

Rhymes: Public Enemy “Prophets of Rage,” Pete Rock & CL Smooth “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.),” and Jay-Z ft. The Notorious B.I.G. “Brooklyn’s Finest”


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Nation Institute


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YP is a rapper from Chicago’s Eastside.

Rhymes: Jay Z “Lucky Me,” T.I. “Doin’ My Job,” and Nas “Watch Dem Niggas”


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[audio https://archive.org/download/RhymesReasons-Yp/RhymesReasons-YpEdit.mp3]

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YP on Facebook


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Andre “Add-2” Daniels is an MC hailing from Chicago.

Rhymes: Jay-Z “Bring It On”; Common ft. the Last Poets “The Corner”; Reflection Eternal “Love Language/Love Speakeasy”


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[audio https://archive.org/download/RhymesReasons-Add-2/RhymesReasons-Add-2v2.mp3]

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Add-2 on Facebook



Songs from this Interview:

Jay-Z “Bring It On”

Jay-Z “Regrets”

Nas “Book of Rhymes”

Common ft. the Last Poets “The Corner”

Kanye West ft. Common and Talib Kweli “Get Em High”

Jaylib “Starz”

Kendrick Lamar “Cut You Off”

Reflection Eternal “Love Language”

Reflection Eternal “Love Speakeasy”

Add-2 ft. Wes Restless “Couples Therapy”

The Stars is in the Building


Syreeta Gates


Syreeta Gates

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”


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[audio https://archive.org/download/RhymesReasonsSyreetaGates/Rhymes%20%26%20Reasons-%20Syreeta%20Gates.mp3]

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The SWT Life

History MEETS Hip-Hop

Just Be Cause: AH HA Moments to Inspire the Next Generation of Change Makers

Songs from this Interview:

Lost Boyz “Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz”

Puff Daddy ft. Lil’ Kim, the LOX, and the Notorious B.I.G. “All About the Benjamins”

The LOX “We’ll Always Love Big Poppa”

Jay-Z “Moment of Clarity”

Jay-Z ft. Pharrell “Excuse Me Miss”

Jay-Z “Sweet”

Kanye West ft. Jay-Z “Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)”

Jay-Z and Kanye West “Ni**gas in Paris”

Ghostface Killah “We Made It”

Kanye West “Power”

Jay-Z “Beach Chair”

Nas ft. Olu Dara “Bridging the Gap”

Busta Rhymes “Everything Remains Raw”

Cam’ron ft. Jaheim “More Reasons”

Big K.R.I.T. “Yesterday”

Lupe Fiasco “Hood Now (Outro)”