Recently, frequent IMF Magazine featured artist Naledge sat down with Charne Graham to discuss how he manages to merge his career in hip-hop with his many community involvement activities, the differences in working on music as one half of Kidz In The Hall and working on his solo career, and much more! Check out the story in full after the jump.
Words By Charne Graham
Naledge is best known as the voice of Kidz in the Hall and is no rookie to Chicago’s hip-hop scene. With the city’s upcoming music artist buzzing with popularity, Naledge still manages to maintain the same avidity and hunger he had when he started rapping in college at the University of Pennsylvania.
Since 2006, Naledge has released four studio albums with Kidz in the Hall. Now in 2012, the rapper is focusing more on his transition into a solo career, embarking on graduate school and being a new father. “My solo work is a bit different from the Kidz in the Hall music because it’s focusing more on the ups and and downs of my life instead of catering to the Kidz in the Hall audience” says Naledge. “Double O does the production for Kidz in the Hall so sometimes I would have to limit my story-telling because I’m not just representing myself I’m speaking for him and everyone else.” Naledge has been relentless with releasing solo mixtapes and is currently working on his solo album Chicago Picasso 2, due November 6th, 2012 on Duckdown Records. “I always feel like my solo work is more my vision, more personal and more Chicago.” adds Naledge.
Naledge bridges hip-hop with community engagement by helping the youth of Chicago through his company Brainiac Society. Brainiac Society has had partnerships with such non profit organizations The Happiness Club, which promotes self-esteem among teens through creative and performing arts and LIFT Communities Inc., a volunteer organization that seeks to combat poverty with one on one community resource counseling. In between takes at his Bridgeport located recording studio Naledge echoed, “Chicago has historically always been a unique city in that spatially it’s one of the most geographically segregated places in America in terms of race. Additionally, the racial disparities in the amount of people who fall prey to the system is astounding. I just care alot about Chicago and feel it is my duty to play my part. I don’t do that for recognition.”
Brainiac Society has also contributed to the Chicago hip hop community with Naledge being infamously known for taking aspiring artists and engineers into the recording studio during the making of his studio albums. “Being in an actual recording studio can be intimidating to kids and I want to help them out by giving them that experience early,” says Naledge. With the new wave of artist from Chicago being as young as 16-years-old, Naledge feels that it is important for teens to know how to interact with others in the music industry as well as work within the studio. “The kids in my community are my biggest inspiration artistically but they need that guidance in order to become better men. If they knew better, they would do better. I’m trying to be the change that I want to see in this city. “
As he is now inching into his thirties, Naledge is pursuing a Masters of Arts degree in social work from the University of Southern California and utilizing his influence as a respected hip hop artist to further his practice as a community advocate. The Ivy League graduate hopes to continue to help the community by mentoring the youth as well as following his parent footsteps in helping provide mental health and supportive services for African American youth and families. “My hope is that I can leave a legacy in my city to where people are inspired to raise the bar of what it means to be putting on for Chicago. It isn’t enough to see our people on television. We need to see them in the community on the front lines showing these lost kids they care. That’s where someone like me comes in to bridge the gap.”