Hip-hop power to the people

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After releasing his new album, “Scholar,” last October, Blake Brandes (’06) set out to bring his rap’s academic, socially conscious message to a wider audience: disadvantaged youth.

Brandes has teamed up with Champions for Kids, a nonprofit, to bring empowerment and positivity into local communities via creating hip-hop music.

“I’m helping them develop strategies that leverage the power of people in their own communities to improve the lives of children,” said Brandes, whose story is featured in the Spring 2012 issue. “One of the things I’d really like to do is work with teens and corporate leaders to talk about intergenerational communication using intergenerational communication since I do a lot of beatboxing and rapping.”

Brandes strives to fuse the academic (he’s a Marshall Scholar) with public engagement in all of his ventures, including his work with Champions for Kids. Some of his recent projects include collaborating with a cancer patient to produce an inspirational hip-hop track, “Livestrong Man,” as well as overseeing workshops with imprisoned youth to open a dialogue “about issues of race and class and gender and exploring the ways that we can use hip-hop to have a conversation about these issues,” Brandes explained.

The video below shows Brandes teaching rap and beatboxing to high school students and corporate teams at the Henkel Global Leadership Conference in Arkansas, as well as some of his engagement with Champions for Kids.


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