Vann R. Newkirk II


Vann Newkirk

Vann R. Newkirk II, also known as fivefifths, is a writer, editor, graphic designer, and activist entrepreneur who is currently Chief Scribe and founder at Seven Scribes, a new online destination for millennials of color. He is a graduate of Morehouse College and UNC-Chapel Hill, and is deeply passionate about social justice, environmental justice, Afrofuturism/speculative fiction, and hip-hop, and in the intersection between them all. His work has been featured in Ebony, GQ, and Grantland among other outlets.

Rhymes: Outkast “Aquemini,” Blackstar ft. Common “Respiration,” and Gucci Mane “Lemonade”


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Frank Waln

Frank Waln

Frank Waln

 Frank Waln is an award-winning Sicangu Lakota artist, performer, and producer from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He currently lives in Chicago.

Rhymes: Nas “One Mic,” OutKast “Elevators (Me & You),” and Robbie Robertson “Coyote Dance”


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Dr. Bettina Love

Bettina Love

Dr. Bettina Love

Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award winning author and Associate Professor of Educational Theory & Practice at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on the ways in which urban youth negotiate Hip Hop music and culture to form social, cultural, and political identities to create new and sustaining ways of thinking about urban education and social justice. Her research is focused on transforming urban classrooms through the use of non-traditional educational curricula and classroom structures. Dr. Love is one of the field’s most esteemed educational researchers in the area of Hip Hop education for elementary aged students. She is the founder of Real Talk: Hip Hop Education for Social Justice, an after school initiative aimed at teaching elementary students the history and elements of Hip Hop for social justice aligned with core subjects through project-based learning. Dr. Love also has a passion for studying the school experiences of queer youth, along with race and inequality in education.

Dr. Love is a sought-after public speaker on a range of topics including: Hip Hop education, Black girlhood, queer youth, Hip Hop feminism, art-based education to foster youth civic engagement, and issues of diversity. In 2014, she was invited to the White House Research Conference on Girls to discuss her work focused on the lives of Black girls. She is the inaugural recipient of the Michael F. Adams award (2014) from the University of Georgia. She has provided commentary for various news outlets including NPR, The Guardian, and theAtlanta Journal Constitution.

Dr. Love is one of the founding board members of The Kindezi School, an innovative school focused on small classrooms and art-based education. She conducts workshops/professional development seminars for educators and students for educational entities of all kinds.

She is the author of Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South. Her work has appeared in numerous books and journals, including the English Journal, Urban Education, The Urban Review, and Journal of LGBT Youth. She is currently editing a special issue of the Journal of Lesbian Studies focused on the identities, gender performances, and pedagogical practices of Black and Brown lesbian educators.

Rhymes: The Fugees “Ready or Not,” OutKast “In Due Time,” and Kendrick Lamar “Black Boy Fly”



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On Facebook

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Julian “J. Kwest” DeShazier

J. Kwest

Julian “J. Kwest” DeShazier

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”


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J. Kwest on Facebook


Verbal Kwest

Songs from this Interview:

Outkast “13th Floor/ Growing Old”

Outkast “Hootie Hoo”

Common ft. Lauryn Hill “Retrospect for Life”

J. Cole “Lost Ones”

Little Brother “All For You”

Shaquille O’Neal “Biological Didn’t Bother”

Outkast “Church”

Eminem “Lose Yourself”

Wu-Tang “Triumph”

Verbal Kwest “Believers”

Verbal Kwest “Crazy Streets”

MC Tree



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 Schoolnamed 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'”


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Download Tree’s “Sunday School” Mixtape

Download “Tree ft. The City”


The Fader on Tree

FakeShoreDrive on Tree

Songs from this Interview:

2Pac “Keep Ya Head Up”

Young Joc “It’s Goin’ Down”

Ice Cube “Once upon a Time in the Projects”

2Pac “When We Ride On Our Enemies”

2Pac “Me Against the World”

Crucial Conflict “Life Just Ain’t the Same”

Mr. Jinks “Ride 4U”

Master P “Make’em Say UHH”

Nas “The Game Lives On”

Outkast “Return of the ‘G'”

Devin the Dude ft. Snoop, Andre 3000 “What a Job”

Coo Coo Cal “My Projects”

Group Home “So Called Friends”

Murs “Yesterday & Today”

Tree “Real Ass Niggas”

Sharrieff Muhammad

Sharrieff Muhammad

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)”


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Poet Laureate of Wicker Park

Tomorrow Kings

Songs from this Interview:

Brand Nubian “Looking at God/Wake Up!”

Eric Clapton “Crossroads”

Eric B. & Rakim “Microphone Fiend”

Public Enemy “Fight the Power”

Public Enemy “Bring the Noise”

A Tribe Called Quest ft Leaders of the New School “Scenario”

A Tribe Called Quest “Excursions”

Cypress Hill “How I Could Just Kill a Man”

The Police “Every Breath You Take”

Puff Daddy ft Faith Evans and 112 “I’ll Be Missing You”

Outkast “Elevators (Me & You)”

Ghostface Killah “Iron Maiden”

2Pac “So Many Tears”

De La Soul “Stakes is High”

The Notorious B.I.G. “Everyday Struggle”

Common “Resurrection (Large Professor Remix)”

Killarmy “Feel It”

Lupe Fiasco “Muhammad Walks”

Jasson Perez

Jasson and his daughter Nisa

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,”  Outkast “Rosa Parks”


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BBU’s website: It’

Download BBU’s Mixtape “Fear of a Clear Channel Planet”

Download BBU’s Mixtape “bell hooks”

Songs from This Interview:

2Pac- Keep Ya Head Up 2Pac-Holla If Ya Hear Me 2Pac- Hit’em Up Outkast- Rosa Parks Outkast- SpottieOttieDopaliscious Outkast- Return of the G  BBU- Chi Don’t Dance BBU- I Do This for My Culture BBU- Jukin’ on Landmines Jay-Z ft Beanie Sigel- Where Have You Been LL Cool J- I Can’t Live Without My Radio Geto Boys- My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth- T.R.O.Y. (They Reminisce Over You) Wu-Tang Clan- C.R.E.A.M. Little Brother- The Yo-Yo Kanye West ft. Jay-Z- Diamonds from Sierra Leone Remix Nas- Black Girl Lost Jay-Z- U Don’t Know  Common- Resurrection