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How this camp uses hip-hop to take Memphis youth to new heights

Downtown Memphis Commission hosted a summer camp that introduced students to architecture and local celebrities.
Credit: Meka Wilson

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Earlier this month, Downtown Memphis Commission, along with Material Bank, hosted a Hip Hop Architecture Camp, to support the education of underrepresented youth in architecture and design.

"Hip Hop Architecture Camp was founded in 2016 by Michael Ford, and provides a bridge for students to make the connection between music, storytelling, and physical design," said the camp. 

The camp was held July 11th through the 15th, and along with designing small models of buildings out of staples and other aesthetics, campers had the opportunity to meet local rappers, such as NLE Choppa, Big 30, and Al Kapone, and perform their own original songs. 

"Destiny Da Chef" is a creative writer, producer, and rap artist, and she also manages a music program out of Atlanta. She has been working with the Hip Hop and Architecture Camp since 2017. She has worked with a lot of Atlanta and New York City artists, but feels her focus right now are kids. 

When asked about the background of the camp, Chef said, "It's pretty much just a mixture of hip hop and architecture, and showing how they come together. It's only 2 percent of African Americans that do architecture, and we are just trying to bring awareness, in a way where kids can understand, which is music."

NLE Choppa, a rap artist from Memphis, who attended Cordova High School, mentioned that the performances from the kids were beautiful and entertaining. "I remember when I was once a kid, and I always used to try to write songs and they never came out the right way...and it didn't make sense, it wasn't right, but eventually I started maturing, and I started using it as a therapy, and that is when it really started to open up for me, to make a good song,so I feel it is important for a lot of kids to be able to explain themselves, and describe how they are feeling through music, cause it can be used as therapy."

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