Hip Hop Scholars - Educators & Advocates
Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer
Grand Rapids Community College
Selected Publications, Appearances, Curated Projects
McNeely Cobham, B. A. (2016) Sisters Rap the Blues: Examining the Perceived Impact of Rap Music on Black Women College Students. Ada: A
Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, No. 10.
McNeely Cobham, B. A. (2015). The Hip-Hop Generation. In W. Grady-Willis, B. A. McNeely Cobham & D. Velarde (Eds.), The struggle continues: Historical and contemporary issues in Africana Studies. Digital Textbook. Great River Technologies, LLC.
Sankofa Lecture Series
Hip Hop Literacy Conference (2012-2015)
Overall objectives of the Sankofa Lecture Series are:
-To increase curriculum connections and innovative approaches to teaching through the use of didactic concepts of Hip Hop culture.
-To increase knowledge of how elements of Hip Hop culture have been used to communicate the perspective of marginalized communities on issues of race, identity, and (regional) space.
-To critically examine the artistic conflict between affirming and harmful representations of Hip Hop culture, and how such issues impact identity formation and literacy.
Femcees: Lyrics Decoded
Associate Professor of History;
Director of African & African Diaspora Studies Program
Eric Michael Washington was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. He is an associate professor of History specializing in Africa and Africana Studies. As an interdisciplinary scholar, he researches and writes on the intersections of race, class, and gender as well as on African and African Diaspora cultures including art forms such as literature and music. Hip-Hop is a holistic African Disaporan artform is prominent in his pedagogy and discourse.
Community Hip Hop Advocate
Queen Chaka is a Grand Rapids, MI native identifying as a Hip Hop advocate and community scholar whose area of expertise lies in Golden Era rap music and the culture surrounding this time period. She fell in love with Hip Hop in grade school after hearing Run DMC's "Raising Hell". She is a strong advocate for Hip Hop in it's original and authentic form and promotes Hip Hop's 5th element, "KNOWLEDGE". She serves as moderator for the podcast "Yanadameen Godcast" with Hip Hop legends, Lord Jamar and Rah Digga. She is also an artistic creative who infuses Hip Hop into her designs. She has made custom designs for Hip Hop icons such as Rakim, GZA, Killah Priest, and Lord Jamar. Queen Chaka was also consulted and appeared in the Rakim documentary short that aired during GRCC's Diversity Lecture Series that featured Rakim in April 2021.
HHAAE Board Member
Education Specialist & RTA - Wedgwood Christian Services
Kendrick "88" Cummings serves on the board of directors for the Hip Hop Association of Advancement and Education and is an Education Specialist and RTA (Responsible Thinking Advisor) for Wedgwood Christian Services. Kendrick uses the elements of Hip Hop as an intervention with his students. He see Hip Hop's original philosophy, core principles, and inclusivity as effective points of engagement to aid in emotional growth, improved self-esteem, and self love. 88 stands by KRS-One's quote, "Rap is something you do. Hip Hop is something you live." As a life long Hip Hop advocate and scholar of the culture, Kendrick is a living testament to the power of Hip Hop. He lives Hip Hop is every aspect of his life and is dedicated to advancing an authentic self-expression through the culture.
Co-Founder & Vice President - HHAAE
Founder - grhiphop.org
HopeDealersGR (Grand Rapids, MI)
Plan Beats Crew (Miami, FL)
Monk Matthaeus is a Grand Rapids, MI born hiphoppa with over 25 years experience as an emcee and producer turned turntable DJ, aerosol artist, Hip Hop culture advocate, and youth mentor. Monk started as an emcee and producer in the mid 90s with Grand Rapids rap crew, the Swollen Headz which later became Organic Flow (O Flow). He moved to Miami, FL in 2002 quickly becoming a prominent figure in the Miami underground Hip Hop scene. He got down with legendary Miami, FL Hip Hop crew, Plan Beats, and volunteered for the Hip Hop youth mentoring nonprofit PATH (pathtohiphop.org) as well as being one of the in house DJs at Catalyst Hip Hop Miami from 2009-2013.
Monk returned to Grand Rapids, MI in 2013 jumping right back into Grand Rapids Hip Hop as a DJ. Monk and a team of area Hip Hop artists/advocates started a Hip Hop mentoring after school program at his alma mater, Ottawa Hills High School, from 2015-2017. He was the lead organizer for the Grand Rapids chapter of the global HipHop4Flint fundraiser on March 19, 2016 in which Grand Rapids raised the most money of all other cities that participated around the globe. In 2015, Monk and 14 dedicated area hiphoppas formed the first officially registered Universal Zulu Nation Chapter in Michigan's history (Grand Zulus) of which Monk was elected Chapter Minister. The chapter was short lived as their formation took place just prior to the Afrika Bambaataa scandal and the Grand Zulus unanimously decided to dissolve the chapter after 10 months. Monk then helped to form the 501c3 manifestation of the Lansing, MI based, All of the Above Hip Hop Academy (AOTA), where he served as a founding board member and Grand Rapids, MI Chapter Director from 2017-2019. During this time, Monk lead a group of talented Grand Rapids youth as they opened up for Mustafa Santiago Ali during the Wege Foundation's Wege Speaker Series on environmental justice at Aquinas College on April 11, 2019.
In 2017, Monk moved his Hip Hop mentoring from Ottawa Hills High School to Covenant House Academy which has become the Hip Hop program's permanent home. He was asked to join the global governing committee of Generation Hip Hop Global in 2018 where he served as Michigan Director and later CEO before resigning in 2019 to cofound and serve as the Vice President of the Hip Hop Association of Advancement and Education (HHAAE) with globally renowned Hip Hop scholar, Dr. Tasha Iglesias. Monk is active in community building through Hip Hop in various arenas including, youth mentoring, event planning, and volunteering.
Rodney D. Brown
He’s called Mr. Brown, Coach Brown, “Professor”, Rod B. and aka “Rich Black” and is the Founder of the Hip Hop Literacy Project and a past organizer of the Hip Hop Summer Camp with the Grand Rapids Hip Hop Coalition. Over the years, Mr. Brown has coordinated many activities and events within the schools, classrooms and community that are grounded in Hip Hop culture and also organizes diverse engagements across demographics and communities. Mr. Brown is an avid adherent to the principles of Hip Hop culture (Peace, Love, Unity, Safely Having Fun and Knowledge) and recognizes the power in the history and lineages of Hip Hop and believes strongly that, “We do a disservice to young people when we do not intentionally introduce them to the origins, history, icons of Hip Hop and the purpose and authentic practices embedded within Hip Hop culture.”
Mr. Brown is an Educator, Community Organizer, Social Entrepreneur and Political Scientist with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with Emphasis in Ethnic Studies Concentration on African American Culture from Santa Clara University, a private, Jesuit college in the Silicon Valley of California. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Education from Davenport University.
Mr. Brown was born, bred and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan a place affectionately called “Grand Rap”, “G-Rap”, “The Grand” and “616” and believes that, “Talent from Grand Rapids has always influenced aspects of the music and entertainment industry and Grand Rapids has bred incredible talent, and in Hip Hop particularly, our Grand Rapids neighborhoods (whether they’ve been heard or not) has some of the best lyricists, beat-makers and cultural influencers of anyplace, anywhere in the World.”
As an Educator, Mr. Brown, started his career as an Emergency Substitute-Permanent Teacher Placement in 1993 with the East Palo Alto School District in California, teaching Math & Science to 7th grade students. The movie Dangerous Minds was based on this school district. This teaching experience impacted Brown to return home to Grand Rapids to “make a difference in my community”. Upon the return home, Mr. Brown spent 7 years as an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Grand Rapids Community College and has spent the past 15 years as an Administrator with the Grand Rapids Public Schools. Mr. Brown currently leads the Grand Rapids Learning Center, a dynamic alternative high school located on the GRCC campus, a partnership-school between GRPS and GRCC.
For nearly 30 years (multi era and multi issue organizing), Mr. Brown has been a thought leader, educator, community advocate, non-profit executive, board member and an organizational consultant and he was also a past political candidate for local office. “I ran for political office twice, in 1997 and in 1998 and certainly when I started community organizing in 1994, it was very rewarding for me to get the Hip Hop community and the younger generation involved in the process. Because I was in my 20’s as for my age, this was an important target demographic of peers and also the next generation coming behind me, so to get so many people from the Hip Hop community involved (for their first time) in the political process and where I even inspired some to add their voices into the community development space, this was important to me.”
Mr. Brown also volunteers his time to help individuals and organizations “build their capacities to serve the community” and he coaches individuals in sharing their voices on community and neighborhood issues and consults organizations in capacity-building and professional development activities. Mr. Brown himself is a strong voice for the importance of Neighborhood Associations and Black community-agency in community organizing. Brown is a passionate advocate for inclusive economic development practices and access and opportunity for diverse voices to be activated and heard in the community development and political process of making community.
Mr. Brown shares a core belief that he learned as a youth from Elder Carl Edward Smith and that is, “Those that have the power to define have the power to determine.” Brown believes that this quote represents the essence of Hip Hop, and is a foundational principle in community organizing, political thought and is critical to understand, “Our language, actions and the iconography we use sets the tone, tempo and tenor for our community, our classrooms and for organizational culture overall. What others see, hear and feel in our shared spaces, each of us bare some responsibility. Who is most responsible in this space? Is it the DJ or the MC? The teacher or the student? The politician or the citizen? Ultimately, each individual needs to understand and value the “flow” in a cypher or in a session, in their business or in the community and certainly in the classroom. Everyone actively engaging in creating the rhythm for the work taking place in any space is always important.”