Howard Brown HC'12:
I'm a sophomore at Haverford College and this semester, I'm producing an album called CREATIVE CONTROL, featuring the vocal talents of the Bi-College community. I have been writing and producing music since the 8th Grade. I have worked with some major artists and record labels during my time but after coming to college, my music has fallen second to my work and it feels like I've lost my creativity. In order for me to stay sane and not totally lose everything that I have worked for, I had to figure out a way to incorporate myself, my past achievements, and my future goals into the Haverford community.
With this project, I plan to prove that it is possible for musically talented people to flourish on this campus without playing an instrument or singing in a choir. I would like to open the doors for the students that are not classically trained and are vocally challenged and show them that it is still possible to add to the Haverford music dynamic. I believe that with the right music and right songs, any of the a capella singers in the Bi-Co can sound like stars.
With help from The Student Arts Fund, Jason McGraw, and the Academix Committee, the release of this project in April will coincide with this year's Academix panel and concert, which will focus on student-artists' roles and challenges with balancing school and creativity.
Simone Crew HC '13:
Simone Crew is an 18-year old San Francisco native, and a freshman at Haverford College. She has been writing and performing spoken word since she was inspired by an assignment from her 7th grade English teacher. Simone has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., at the 20th annual Goldman Environmental Prize awards ceremony, the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and at "Bringing the Noise for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.", a San Francisco celebration of King's work. Her interviews and performances have also included appearances on NPR's Talk of the Nation with Robert Redford, as well as on the San Francisco Bay Area’s KQED Forum. Simone has participated in three of Youth Speaks’ Bay Area Annual Teen Poetry Slams and the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slams; for two of these years, she has competed at Brave New Voices as a team member. In 2009, she was one of the spoken word artists to participate in HBO's series, Brave New Voices, about the competition. For the last two years, Simone has been a member of Youth Speaks' Green Team, a group of poets committed to environmental issues, awareness, and activism, and she has worked as a member of both the organization's youth board and its board of directors. She has been published in 826 Quarterly and Girls Gone Green - a book that highlights young women's environmental efforts. With experience both leading and participating in workshops, Simone is excited to learn, to teach, and to rep the bay.
Nikki Lopez BMC '10:
Born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico by way of Florida, aside from the world of academics Nikki Lopez is a feminist, activist, spoken word poet, DJ and emcee.As one of the members of 3XLadyCrew, the all womyn hip hop collective, Nikki uses various mediums as a way to battle sexism, trans-phobia, homo-phobia and racism, and classism. Nikki began performing her poetry in 2004 after receiving ALOUD: Voices From The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, from her older brother, Edrik Lopez, Professor of Literature, Fairfield University. "I started writing poetry as a child to escape the challenges of everyday life. I was a poor latina, raised by a single mother in an predominantly white, small city of Florida. After reading this book it was like I breathed in a new air of poetry. I realized it was no longer just written words on paper, but that it could come to life, it was fire, it was vibrant, it was performance...I still consider that book to be what opened up my life to the world of performance poetry" she says. An advocate of using the arts as agents of social change, she believes in its ability to transcend categories and move masses regardless of age, race, ethnicity or economic background. She has had the opportunity to share the stage with acclaimed poets, such as Jose Angel Figueroa, Adriel Luis, Ben Alisuag, and Oveous Maximus and has performed in a number of venues across the northeast including; the Bowery poetry club, the Nuyorican poets cafe, Hostos community college, Delaware valley college, and of course the tri co. She is currently working on self- publishing a cd and chapbook of poetry, and was featured in the 74th edition of Sinister Wisdom magazine "Latina Lesbians" released fall of 2008.
Professor Jesse Shipley:
Jesse is a filmmaker and anthropologist who works in West Africa. He has written on performance, music, and theatre. He is writing a book on hip hop/hiplife music in Ghana due out with Duke University Press in 2011. His feature musical documentary film "Living the Hiplife" (Third World Newsreel 2007) chronicles the dynamic influence of African Diaspora popular music in West Africa and his new film "Is it Sweet?" examines African musicians journey to the Bronx. In recent years he has begun directing music videos with underground and established artists in Africa, the UK, and New York. He is currently working on a documentary called "Black Star: the People's Game" following the Ghana national football teams journey to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
After migrating from Tallahassee, Florida to Brooklyn, New York in the early 90s, Dead Prez linked with Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian, who ultimately helped the group ink a deal with Steve Rifkin's burgeoning powerhouse Loud Records. After waiting four long years, they dropped their critically-acclaimed debut, Lets Get Free, in 2000. But soon after, Loud Records folded, and it's stable of artists were swallowed up by its parent company Sony. "We were more like slaves on a plantation, and our plantation burned down," says M1, who earned his revolutionary stripes working in Chi-town with the National People's Democratic Uhuru Movement in the mid-90s to free Fred Hampton Jr. "So we end up on this other plantation and we decided to run."
After Sony fumbled the ball, Dead Prez essentially ran back to where they felt their message needed to be heard most- the streets. 2003 and 2004 saw them release successive independent mixtapes/albums- Turn off the Radio Volume 1 and Turn off the Radio Volume 2: Get Free or Die Trying- both of which sold over 100 thousand units and subsequently helped the group attain a new major label deal. But it was the more so the artistic freedom begat by the black market mixtape format, as well as the types of people who consumed this new music that attracted Dead Prez.
"We saw mixtapes as a hood phenomenon," M1 explains. "People would buy mixtapes and bootlegs before they even went to the store. That really happened on the corner of Fulton Street and Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. I'd rather be here than in the store, because this is where people are going to buy it."
With solid industry relationships in tow, mountains of respect from their hip-hop peers, and the streets clamoring for new music from the band who was now championing a street gang-influenced red, black, and green (Revolutionary But Gangsta) bandanna movement, the majors came knocking again. This time though, Dead Prez was prepared to get over on the system. "We had the RBG album since Loud," says M1. He claims that because the album was recorded while Loud was still functional, Sony technically owned the album, and would make it hard for Dead Prez to sign elsewhere. "They begged us to come back and put it out over there. We made it easy on ourselves, with an album that was three years old and only getting older."
Now relieved to be once again removed from the majors, M1 has partnered up with famed jazz guitar player and producer Fabrizio Sotti's (Cassandra Wilson) Sotti Records and KOCH Records to release his debut solo LP, Confidential. "We did one or two things and then we realized we had something in common and that musically our ears are in tune," he says, claiming that his relationship with Sotti was fostered on personal grounds and developed slowly over time. "I think he makes a style of music that is kind of commercial but it allows you to paint the picture in a very non-threatening way." Bolstered by guest appearances from Styles P, Q-Tip, K'naan and Cassandra Wilson- as well as his partner since their days at Florida A&M, Stic Man.
M1's intentions are clear, as he envisions Confidential as the next chapter in the book Dead Prez is writing with their career. "There's this real underground thing that happened with hip-hop, and I think we were relegated to that, boxed in and couldn't leave. I think people thought it was almost like a sin for us to do music with Jay-Z. We're all doing the same thing. He's just doing it his way and I'm doing it my way." As to why he's adopted this new approach to the music industry, much of it stems from just a general lack of support within the mainstream music business for the ideas Dead Prez champions. "The idea of revolution will never be popular until revolutionaries are in charge. When you have niggas in charge who want to keep down the revolution, they see me coming. I'm really a target, so it's definitely like, don't play that." With a change in approach, the revolution may just very well be televised after all. "But you didn't hear it from me..."
In 2005 Stic.man, one half of the hip-hop duo Dead Prez, published the book 'The Art of Emcee-ing' under his independent publishing company, Boss Up, Inc. "There are a lot of books about the history of rap, the who's who in the industry and gossiping," he said. Stic's book deals with the basics of emceeing: techniques on how to get over your writers block, how to heal your voice when you're on the road, and much more. "There's never been a book by an emcee about emceeing."