Tomás received his Masters degree in social work from Smith College School for Social Work and Bachelors degree in social work from San Francisco State University. He is the founder and executive director of Beats, Rhymes and Life (BRL), a clinically-based community organization that aims to promote mental health and wellness among youth and young adults by utilizing Hip Hop and other forms of popular culture. Tomás lives and practices social work in Oakland, California where he specializes in culturally congruent strength-based therapeutic group work with adolescents of color. In 2009, his performance-based Rap Therapy group became the focus of a feature film entitled, Beats, Rhymes and Life Film Project set to premier in 2011. Tomás has also documented his work using Rap Therapy in Oakland, California in a chapter for an upcoming book entitled, “Therapeutic uses of Rap Music“. In addition to his work with BRL, Tomás serves as a transitional age youth advocate and consultant for Alameda County. In 2010, he was selected to serve as an advisory committee member for the California Institute for Mental Health Center for Multicultural Development (CMD), an entity designed to promote the cultural competence of publicly funded behavioral health systems.
Vijay Prashad is the author of eleven books, most recently, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (The New Press, paperback 2008), which was picked by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop as the nonfiction book of 2008.
Prashad writes regularly in the media: as a columnist for Frontline magazine (Chennai, India), a contributing editor for Himal South Asia (Kathmandu, Nepal) and a contributing editor for Naked Punch Asia (Lahore, Pakistan). His web dispatches can be read at Counterpunch (counterpunch.org), at ZNET (zmag.org/znet) and at Pragoti (www.pragoti.org).
Prashad is on the board of the National Priorities Project (www.nationalpriorities.org).
Prashad was also featured in Jeff Chang’s book Total Chaos and participated in Jeff Chang’s Total Choas Panel at the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival 2008.
The drastic contrast between privileged Canada and under-nourished Chile sparked the revolution within young Cenzi’s mind. This helped him clearly see political injustices, economic favoritism and basically what others were missing, or being deprived of. Thus he started to fight with the ingenuity and passion of youth.
When Cenzi was introduced to technology, his spiritual marriage to music was love at first sight. A few of his earlier tracks were used as beats for budding artists in Chile, where hip hop was just starting to be commercially embraced.
“I feel that I was very fortunate that I too was to become thrown into this whirlwind of economic success,” says Cenzi, “as all of the top hip hop singles sounding on the radio were backed up by my beats! This is how I learned the tricks of the trade; the mechanism of the record industry.” With this, he set up a small record label and put out one album by three young kids from a down trodden neighborhood.
Later as an MC, Cenzi realized from the first moment he rocked the microphone and record vocals over a beat that he had a responsibility to use his music for social uplifting, and “not for the sake of riddling’” as the great Chuck D said. He has continued to do so for over ten years.
Cenzi’s music career has been blessed with the opportunity to have dealt with three record labels during many albums. That only gave him the knowledge to take his own music under his own wing and become a strong, disciplined and proud independent artist. “I push my own agenda,” says Cenzi, “which is Equality on All Fronts, but primarily through the younger children who should not deal with hunger, stress, low self esteem and other health issues.”
She co-founded the French Music Export Offices network, creating the first joint venture between the French government and the music industry. Preferring concrete action with young people to politics, she organised a successful program of urban music workshops in the education sector that led her to work for UN-Habitat as an advisor and PR for its urban youth programme.
MAB is now an international consultant based in London promoting artists on niche markets and setting up artists workshops in the education sector. She works as a cultural broker, creating socially responsible partnerships between the public and private sectors to promote cultural diversity and support disenfranchised youth through the arts. She is regularly invited to do lectures on Global Hip Hop as a tool for education and social change (UK, USA, Brazil, Africa) and to provide professional trainings on international/digital development (UK, Africa). She is also co-running www.afrolution.com, a platform promoting conscious African Hip Hop artists. Look out for the compilation Afrolution vol.2, the original African Hip Hop collection!