Elementz Hip Hop Youth Arts Center (www.elementz.org) is a non profit that was founded in February of 2005 that’s mission focuses on inspiring and engaging youth from the urban core though hip hop and urban arts. Over the years Elementz has gained regional and national attention for our work in the community. Elementz is a place where I use my media and music production talents full time as the Creative Director and under my leadership we have continued to make progress in providing youth with life changing artistic and leadership opportunities while helping Cincinnati to connect with its urban core.
You can read all of my posts about my work with Elementz here on my website by typing the word “ElementzHipHop” in the search column.
My Journey With Elementz
It was August 2005. I had recently converted to Islam and was trying to navigate through an increasingly successful musical relationship with my creative partner Infinit. But I wasn’t willing to drop out of college to pursue music. It was about a year before I would graduate from the University of Cincinnati, but even then I was already looking for a way to use my musical talents. A colleague of mine named Charles “Beataholic” Reynolds informed me of a new community hip hop arts center for inner city youth called Elementz.
On my first visit, I was very inspired by everything that I saw at Elementz; the concept, the space, the volunteers and, most importantly, the youth. It reminded me of S.T.A.R.S, a nonprofit organization focused on inspiring inner city youth through music that my father had founded in Columbus. From that moment forward I knew that I wanted to serve God within Elementz. So in late summer of 2005 I began to volunteer at Elementz in the recording arts department. By fall of that year my volunteer work had become an internship experience.
I graduated from UC in the summer of 2006 and by then my volunteering had led to working part time at Elementz. I was the Audio Production Instructor, but at first the youth saw me as just a robot who pressed play, record and stop buttons on the recording program Pro Tools. Eventually they opened up to me and I became like a big brother to many of them. I took the title of Brother (Akhe) Abdullah to reflect this growing relationship with the artists I was working with.
Over the next three years my audio program essentially grew into an artist development program. We trained youth on song writing, music production, performance, recording, and emphasized ethics! Elementz began hosting a monthly showcase that allowed artists to share their talents with the community and get feedback from local professionals on how they could improve. I even created a youth leadership group called “The Lead” which took partial ownership of planning all of our performances.
Before long we were filling our performance space and the community was inquiring about booking our artists. I had crafted a hip hop showcase around the Elementz theme of “Hip Hop and Respect.” People knew that when they saw Elementz perform that our artists were not only going to show out but also keep it real and respectful. It was around this time in 2009 that the Board of Elementz presented me with the opportunity to become the director of all of the programs at Elementz.
Today Elementz is thriving with more community support than ever. Through my work I have been identified as an emerging African American leader in Cincinnati by the Cincinnati Enquirer and I’ve been interviewed by PBS.
But I’m most impressed by the way the community has begun to embrace urban arts and respect many of our youth as professional artists. Through their artistic gifts, our youth are finding much more than just money making opportunities — they are also finding inspiration to journey forward in their own lives. We continue to find unique opportunities to share our talents — from hip hop workshops at Jewish temple’s & Catholic schools to inspiring performances at premier concert venues.
As I continued my work with Elementz I started to get back into my own music. I couldn’t possibly fight the pull of creating music since I was around it on a daily basis while teaching others how it was done. But the most important development over the course of my time at Elementz has been marrying Nazeerah Abdullah.
Read all of my #Journey Entries by clicking here
ELEMENTZ DIGITAL NEWSLETTER’S & VIDEO’S
Each season of the year we produce a video that features our most recent great stories which we call the “Digital Newsletter.” These video’s are typically hosted by RStreetz who is one of Elementz most promising emerging artists/personalities. You can view all of our Digital Newsletters below. See all of our other video productions on our Youtube Channel.
ELEMENTZ URBAN ARTS AND MUSIC
Elementz attracts youth who are aspiring urban musicians, dancers, dj’s, and visual artists. We help these young people learn how to tell their story and develop their artistic talents. Below is a music video that I produced in 2010 that demonstrates some of our most promising artists (Gamm LeBeau, Devonte Singer, Nitty Morris, MC Forty.