Danny Brown and RZA to bring poetry & chess to classrooms

There are two types of rapper in regards to their attitudes towards their hometowns – the ones that rep their city by name drop and the ones that give back to their cities. Danny Brown, RZA and Kendrick Lamar are the latter, with each of the rappers hosting upcoming events for their chosen charities.

Danny Brown is throwing a Bruiser Brigade II show for Thanksgiving on November 25. Unfortunately, it is a Detroit only show, but this year Brown has decided to turn the event into an annual charity event, partnering with InsideOut Detroit’s City Wide Poets Project (CWP). Brown has set up a fundraising page for both CWP and the Detroit Public Schools system, and the pledge drive aims to help put a poet in every Detroit school. On top of the show and the fundraising page, Brown will also be hosting a poetry workshop aimed at teens and young adults in Detroit.

Having spent some time running poetry workshops with The H.U.N. Poets in The United States I can say this is truly a remarkable initiative, and there is nothing more rewarding than giving teens and young adults the tools they need to express their voices. It might seem like such a small thing to teach someone how to express their thoughts and feelings through poetry, but it sets people up with the know-how of channelling emotions into positive work and not letting them get the better of you.

And now for one of those “if you don’t know, now you know” moments – the Hip Hop Chess Federation (been running 5 years and I’ve only just heard about it) has received a donation from RZA. Any Wu-Tang fan can vouch for the positive influence chess has had on RZA’s life, so it makes sense that he has now helped to fund a program to share that positivity with the next generation. The aim of the non-profit chess program is to spread “Chess and Life Strategies” to at-risk youth

RZA also spoke last month to 400 high school students from the St Louis area, including many from Ferguson, Missouri. After the talk, he spent some time playing chess and speaking with juvenile hall inmates. “Chess study, along with martial arts, along with music, is the best way to help develop your mind and body and protect you from pitfalls in life that will surely come at you,” RZA said.

Let us not forget Kendrick Lamar’s scholarship fund. The ‘Be Alright’ scholarship encourages students at a New Jersey high school to submit short videos demonstrating some of the positive messages and impacts of hip hop. Read more about it here.

The way the world sees hip hop, and even more so, rappers, is starting to change. The 80s saw black power rappers, the 90s the gangster rappers, the 2000s the big money rappers – perhaps today, we will see the ‘giving back to the community’ rappers.