B-Fresh Interview w/ Rhymesayers rap star Toki Wright


Meet Toki Wright-Strong Black male

by Rebecca ‘B-Fresh’ McDonald


Rhymesayers hosted A Benefit for Haiti on Tuesday night (raising over $25,000) with Toki Wright performing new material off his upcoming project, BlackMale, an 8-song EP full of his real-life stories and opinions about the black male’s experience. It will be released digitally on Rhymesayers on February 16 and will support Haiti relief as well: Fans will have the opportunity to donate any amount for direct relief efforts as Wright’s friend will be returing to Haiti to hand out basic needs items like aspirin and toothpaste with the proceeds.

I sat down with Wright to explore the connection he is making between the local and global community. See video slideshow below.

B FRESH: With the benefit for Haiti that Rhymesayers organized and your new project where all proceeds will go to the same cause, tell us about the importance of connecting the local with the global community. How do you stay active and engaged in this connection?

Toki Wright: The world is a lot smaller place than we think. We have a lot more in common with our global neighbors than we think. Our music travels across the world and effects many people. As long as you are telling a true story you can connect with others everywhere.

BF: With your organizing and activist hat on, what would you tell people about the struggle or obstacles in making these local/global connections?

TW: The struggle is to make sure that your words find their way into all communities and they are backed up by action.

BF: Your new project touches on similar issues: From your travels around the world to the experiences of a simple day in the barber shop. What should fans and supporters expect from BlackMale and of Toki Wright for 2010?

TW: People should expect a very well thought-out project in BlackMale. Every song on the project is significant to me. It shows my growth as an artist and a person since releasing A Different Mirror. In 2010, I have no plans of slowing down or stopping. I have my first headlining tour coming up (the Black Belt Tour) starting February 25th. I’m going to keep pushing my released projects while working on features and my new album.

BF: What is your inspiration for the project?

TW: I was inspired to add to the documentation of the African-American experience. As we advance technologically we also lose much of our storytelling. If people dig up the United States 1,000 years from now and all they hear are tales of violence and partying, it will make sense why we were led to our own destruction. I want to be able to add some other answers.

BF: Give me your most memorable line from this project off the top:

TW: Off of the track Time Zones-”You wont make it to see 25/they tell us in the hood but they aint tell the kids at Columbine.”

BF: What is your creative process like?
TW: Stress and relief.

BF: What is a habit you have or something quirky that you do while creating?

TW: I keep a pen and pad next to my bed and try to always write my first thoughts when waking up.

BF: After coming off of tour and setting into your new position over at McNally, what has changed about your lifestyle, music etc, and what has stayed the same?

TW: I’m much more focused. I’ve been challenging myself to write in different ways. I don’t think I’m too much different from before the exposure though people may look at me in a different way.

BF: Do you have any other show coming up?

TW: Me and Sims from Doomtree had to make the decision of whether or not to play this benefit show because we are both playing at Sauce on Saturday, February 13th. The Haiti Benefit will be a lot shorter performances, but we knew we had to be present. I look forward to having a party with people both Tuesday and Saturday.

BF: If you could work with anyone this year who would it be and why?

TW: Me, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, and J Dilla on the production. Why not?

BF: Is there anything else you want the world to know about Toki Wright?

TW: “BlackMale” will be available online next Tuesday February 16th. Twitter me. @mrwrighttc

Below is an interview we did last year with Toki Wright..when he released his first Rhymesayer album

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Growing up in Sota Rico-Minneapolis Rapper Maria Isa makes Noise


Minneapolis Hip Hop star Maria Isa takes us through Sota Rico as she celebrates her new album Street Politics

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Maria Isa, photographed in the Minneapolis Uptown neighborhood.

Not a kid anymore, Maria Isa proves she wasn’t kidding about making Minnesota music with a hot Latin hip-hop beat (and a message).


Last update: June 4, 2009 – 5:55 PM


As she looked around the booth-lined basement that was the Dinkytowner Cafe — was as of last weekend, when the venue shut down — Maria Isa sounded like an old sailor paying respects to a decommissioned battleship. Never mind that she’s still only 22 and has many wars left to fight.

“My first show here was a Yo! the Movement show when I was 17, and it was packed with kids,” she remembered in her muy-rapido verbal style (fast and spiked with Spanglish).

The St. Paul rapper/singer lamented the fact that the nonprofit youth program Yo! has also ceased to exist, as has the female hip-hop fest that helped launch her, Be Girl Be. A product of community-driven venues and arts programs, she fears they’re being cast aside in the current economy.

“Those of us who benefited from these things can keep them alive by continuing to grow, and by doing what we set out to do,” she said.

Since her coming-out as a Latina hip-hop artist, Maria IsaBelle Perez Vega certainly has grown. She has developed in the way that could make her protective abuela/grandma ban all men from her concerts. More important, she has blossomed in the way that turns aspiring performers into genuine artists.

Maria’s second album, “Street Politics” — which she’s promoting with a release party tonight at First Avenue — fleshes out her bomba- and reggaeton-enflamed hip-hop sound with an eight-piece band. The CD also raises her value as a sociopolitical rapper and cultural ambassador. When she sings the title track, she says that “I’m not just representing Puerto Ricans or [St. Paul’s] West Side, I’m representing all boys and girls in the hood. I’m saying there’s a way to rule and change government from the streets.”

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Newest Rhymesayer Member Toki Wright Comes through and Represents



Minneapolis Hip Hop artist Toki Wright and the newest member of the Rhymesayers sat down w/ us to talk about the new Hip Hop College he is direction and race relations within Hip Hop. He talks about the importance of having an accredited school on Hip Hop and how we need to bridge the gap between Hip Hop from the hood and Hip Hop enjoyed in burbs. 



Hip-hop has emerged as the newest cultural phenomenon, with a global presence on stage and in youth culture, TV, film, radio, video games, and other media.  Hip-hop music, like every other musical genre from blues to jazz to rock, has a unique set of musical characteristics and challenges.  McNally Smith College of Music is proud to announce a new three semester Diploma program dedicated to hip-hop studies. Our new Diploma program in Hip-Hop Studies is for prospective students who want to explore and develop in a cross-departmental curriculum that covers music, recording technology, language, music history, and music business.
You’ll get hands-on technical training on recording and mixing music in a studio. You’ll take part in a three-course history sequence that grounds hip-hop in its cultural origins.  You’ll learn the fundamentals of language through creative writing and performance.  You will take part in a hands on introduction to deejay techniques and hip-hop music production.
Students enrolled in our other music degree programs can also take advantage of our wide range of hip-hop classes.  For example, music business majors can take hip-hop classes as electives.  
Whether you are focused on music performance, music composition, music business, or music technology our goal at McNally Smith College of Music is to provide you with a contemporary music education as far reaching and in depth as possible.  Today, this includes exploring the sound art of beats, lyrics, sampling, and remixing; the digital technology of MIDI, loop-based music, and hardware sound sources; the dynamic world of editing, mixing, and processing in the modern recording and production studio; and the business skills of branding and promoting your work in the new realm of social media.

Accredited by The National Association of Schools of Music



The hip-hop curriculum includes both general and hip-hop specific courses in the areas of  Music Technology, Music Composition, Music Performance, Music Business, General Music, and Liberal Arts. 

The Big Picture

The Hip-Hop Studies program spans three semesters and results in a Diploma credential.  The hip-hop program culminates with a comprehensive final project and an actualized professional portfolio.

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