On a cold snowy day at a downtown Chicago hospital, K’Valentine made her entrance into this world. She served as an early Christmas gift for her mother. The news of her birth also excited her father, Valentine Ogilvie Reid, who at the time, was incarcerated in another state. At an early age, in spite of many family hardships, K’Valentine excelled academically and in the Arts. Anything associated with creativity was and still is her forte.
As a little girl, K’s exceptional artistic ability was so evident that it’s no surprise that music became her life’s passion. When she discovered the power of hip hop, it became her first love. She dove in head first and learned everything she could about the art form. Soon enough, she was impressing friends and family with her vast knowledge about the world of hip hop.
K’Valentine began her lyrical journey by writing poetry to get out emotions she wanted to express. After a chance meeting with world renowned poet laureate Dr. Maya Angelou before she passed, K’Valentine was encouraged to practice until she mastered her craft. On the advice of Dr. Angelou, K wrote poetry non-stop, and those poems eventually transitioned into songs.
After reciting poetry at numerous spoken word events and receiving positive feedback, it was time for K to finally get in the booth. Shortly after, she released her debut project, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” 2011. Breakfast at Tiffany’s gave listeners their first look into K’Valentine’s heart. She wrote about personal subjects but she also wasn’t scared to get down and dirty on the microphone. On Valentine’s Day 2013, K’Valentine dropped her second mixtape, K’Valentine’s Day, which picked up where Breakfast at Tiffany’s left off.
In 2014, K’Valentine linked up with Javotti Media, a label owned by hip hop star Talib Kweli, and began to work on her third mixtape, Million Dollar Baby. Million Dollar Baby finds K’Valentine rhyming over tracks that are new as well as her versions of existing hits, giving the listener a well rounded perspective of a young lady that can lyrically spar with the best of them. Million Dollar Baby puts on for the city of Chicago by featuring great Chicago artists like Bubble Eye, Vic Spencer and Mikkey Halsted, but it’s undoubtedly K’Valentine’s showcase. You can also find K’Valentine’s contributions to the world of music on Javotti Media’s mixtape, The Cathedral, which placed K in the company of esteemed artists such as Big K.R.I.T. Joell Ortiz, Curren$y, NIKO IS and more.
K’Valentine’s love for music has given her a calling, and she is here to answer that calling. The music she makes is not just wonderful for the listener, but has also been her therapy to get through life’s trying times. As beautiful as she is talented, her experience is valuable and her voice is needed. Experience K’Valentine and enjoy!
Rhymes: 2Pac, “Keep Ya Head Up,” Lauryn Hill, “Tell Him,” Eminem, “Lose Yourself,” and Drake, “Make Me Proud”
GLENN E. MARTIN is the founder and president of JustLeadershipUSA, an organization that aims to cut the U.S. correctional population in half by 2030 by elevating and amplifying the voice of people most impacted by crime and incarceration, and positioning them as informed, empowered reform partners. Mr. Martin is co-founder of the Education Inside Out Coalition (EIO Coalition) and the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy. He is a 2011–2012 America’s Leaders of Change National Urban Fellow and a member of the Boards of The College and Community Fellowship and Prisoners Legal Services. He currently serves on a number of boards, and has often served as a re-entry and criminal justice policy reform expert on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and local media outlets.
Rhymes: Notorious B.I.G. “Gimme The Loot,” Nas ft. Lauryn Hill “If I Ruled the Word (Imagine That),” and Jadakiss ft. Anthony Hamilton “Why?”
The MCing half of progressive rap duo Kidz in the Hall, Naledge was born Jabari Evans in Cincinnati, OH, but grew up on Chicago’s South Side since he was two years old. Raised by two Ph.D.-educated parents, the high-school valedictorian academically had an easy time in school and found his niche in poetry and writing. However, it was cousin Memo, one-third of Chicago production outfit the Molemen, who convinced him to transform his writing prowess into hip-hop rhymes. He first met his DJ/producer partner, Double O, in 2000 on a recruiting visit to the University of Pennsylvania, and the two became good friends and musical collaborators. While still attending Penn, Naledge acquired a solo deal with Rawkus Records, but ended up bringing the Kidz in the Hall brand under Rawkus management as well, once he and Double O finally decided to start the group. Soon after Naledge graduated from Penn in 2004, he released The College Graduate mixtape, which was a nod to Kanye West’s breakout debut album, The College Dropout. After a few Kidz in the Hall mixtapes and an aggressive Internet-promoting campaign, Naledge and Double O dropped their debut, School Was My Hustle, in 2006. Naledge’s solo debut, tentatively titled Naledge Is Power, was intended to come out not long after the Kidz in the Hall LP, but the two wound up severing ties with Rawkus and signed on with Boot Camp Clik imprint Duck Down in 2007. Kidz in the Hall’s fourth studio album, Occasion was released November of 2011. Naledge has created his company, The Brainiac Project Inc., with hope of helping local artists have a creative outlet to have their work heard. Jabari is graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work. Aside from music, Jabari frequently speaks as guest lecturer at high schools, colleges and universities in the Chicagoland area and he is committed to doing community service within around the South Side area where he was raised. In 2009, Chicago Magazine named him one of the city’s “Most Interesting Single Men” and he currently resides in South Shore and enjoys playing sports with his son Caleb.
Rhymes: Twista “Overdose,” Nas ft. Lauryn Hill “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That),” and Common ft. Kanye West and The Last Poets “The Corner”
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”
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”
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.
Rhymes: Mos Def “If You Can Huh, You Can Hear,” Lauryn Hill “Lost Ones,” and J-Live “Traveling Music”