Our Work and Approach
Words Beats & Life began as a Hip-Hop conference at the University of Maryland in the fall of 2000; our founders worked to create a vehicle to propel individual lives and communities through Hip-Hop. Today, Words Beats & Life uses a holistic approach to youth and community development that involves Hip-Hop artists, scholars, educators, activists, and allies. We fulfill our mission through 5 programmatic areas:
We are Hip-Hop in all its forms. We are Words Beats & Life.
As Artists, Scholars, Educators and Activists, we use our talents to transform the lives of members of our communities and the institutions that impact our lives. Our community transcends geography, age, race, religion, language, orientation or gender. We are, in fact, the whole human family and the whole of human history is our birthright and inspiration.
We know that the ink of the scholar is equal to the vinyl of the DJ, the paint of the Writer, the bars of the MC, and the explosive power in the B-Girl’s body in the center of the cypher.
We are unapologetic advocates for the transformative power of hip-hop culture in all its forms, empowering artists to relentlessly create and refine systems that demonstrate positive change through our individual and collective brilliance. We embrace the sacred nature of our work and our roles as keepers and innovators of our culture.
We create arts based educational experiences that equip youth, arts managers, teaching artists and scholars to move from theory to practice. We harness the power of the imagination to reshape the lives and communities we serve.
- Education: Hip-Hop is a powerful teaching tool because it engages people intellectually, creatively and socially.
- Opportunity: Educators, artists, activists and scholars in Hip-Hop require access to the tools and information necessary to build their skills, knowledge and experiences into tangible results and solutions for individuals and communities.
- Ownership: Artists and communities should be the primary owners of the cultural artifacts they produce, archive and present.
- Creativity: Educators, artists, activists and scholars develop and protect environments of innovation.
Hip-Hop is a community working to master a set of artistic forms and cultural practices created to transform the lives of individual artists and their communities. By engaging Hip-Hop as a community of cultural practitioners, we affirm the value of the artist through the appreciation and uplifting of their lives, and their art. At the heart of all we do is the belief that Hip-Hop often acts as the path towards Self Mastery, also know as the Knowledge of Self.
Our community is both local and global. Some work within Hip Hop culture, some are casual fans, some want to learn and some are interested in transforming communities by any means. We engage audiences from the DMV area through our classes and events. We galvanize a national audience through our Teach-In and retreats. We teach and learn with a global audience through our Journal and Hip Hop ambassadors.