Rashad Hawkins is an independent Hip Hop artist, producer and social activist, born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland in the notoriously tough Lexington Terrace neighborhood. His desire for social change and his love for music were born out of his early exposure to the city's harshest conditions including drugs, violence and poverty. After suffering the loss of his father and uncle, Hawkins worked at McDonalds to support his family. By the age of 16, he was writing his own songs and making beats as a tool to cope with his environment and write his own narrative. He was inspired by artists such as NWA, Jay-Z and Kanye West, who articulated similar struggles and he was fascinated by the power of music to not only entertain, but also to communicate and inform. Hawkins' early work attracted the attention of the local and national music industry, including The Profitt of Profitt Productions; in 2010 they collaborated with Lil Fame of M.O.P.to release a single, "Clap Your Hands."
Around the same time, Hawkins began developing and honing his skills to organize other youth after participating in a citywide after school campaign to extend student bus pass hours with a Baltimore non-profit organization, Community Law in Action (CLIA). Afterwards, CLIA hired Hawkins to develop and organize youth around a new initiative called The Just Kids Partnership, with the goal to end the automatic prosecution of youth as adults in the Maryland criminal justice system. Hawkins became widely recognized for his work as a youth justice organizer for the Just Kids Partnership where he co-created and implemented Just Kids' grassroots campaign strategy to successfully change legislation and remove youth from adult jails. He developed the campaign's Core Alliance of Youth Leaders, which, under his leadership, was recognized with a multitude of awards including the John P. Sarbanes Courage Award (2011 and 2012), and the Open Society Institute Audacious Individuals Award (2013). Notably, he co-chaired an alliance of over 30 organizations that stopped the construction of a proposed jail that would have been built to house youth in Baltimore City.
Simultaneously, he worked relentlessly on his music career while remaining completely independent - writing his own lyrics, producing his own instrumentals, marketing himself, and booking shows. In 2013, over 26,000 people downloaded his first official mix-tape "Charm," and Hawkins was recognized as a "charismatic and confident emcee blessed with the God-given skills to be unbelievably deep on the microphone, yet able to spit his lyrics out with machine-gun-like fury" (jamsphere.com).
His inventiveness and genre-breaking style earned him a reputation as one of Baltimore's versatile producers and has resulted in his immense success at staying ahead of the curve. In 2014, he executive produced "kNew Baltimore," uniting young MCs born and raised in Baltimore City to tell the raw, unheard stories of their city. Hawkins believes strongly in the power of music and art to transform people and communities, and is a self-proclaimed "Artivist." Throughout his work and life, his ultimate goal is to "destroy the walls that keep us separated, and build bridges to unify."
Hawkins’ new BMore Awesome Inc initiative, provides a platform for his experiences, expertise, and network to be used collectively to mobilize youth throughout Baltimore city to express their perspectives on issues that impact their communities and advocate to create change.
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