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Monk Matthaeus (FKA Choppy Blades) is Grand Rapids, MI born and Miami, FL made. He started producing and emceeing in Grand Rapids in the late 1990s with the hip hop group The Swollen Headz. In 2002, he moved to Miami, FL where he became a holistic hiphoppa. Monk is devoted to bringing people together, educating youth about hip hop history and culture, and using the artistic elements of hip hop as a tool to bring about positive social change. While it is not uncommon to find Monk free-styling on the mic, making beats, or working on his aerosol art skills, you will most often find him behind 2 turntables. While classic and underground hip hop are his first love, you will frequently hear him mix in funk, reggae, trip hop, jazz, and Latin rhythms to any event or party.
He is a graduate of Scratch DJ Academy in Miami where he trained under the tutelage of legendary regional DMC champion DJ Immortal. He was recruited in 2011 by the historic Miami crew Plan Beats as a DJ, MC, and for the purposes of public relations and marketing. He has been a resident DJ for both Catalyst Hip Hop Miami and The Goose Lounge in Coconut Grove, FL. Monk was a regular guest on the University of Miami’s WVUM 90.5FM during the Tuesday night Hip Hop Shop broadcast from 2010-2012. He was featured during the annual South Florida Universal Zulu Nation Jam in 2011 and was the primary featured DJ of Miami’s infamous Hoodstock 305 talent showcase in 2012. DJ Monk Matthaeus has spun in various Miami venues and outdoor festivals including frequent monthly visits to Miami’s Art Walk and the 2012 Goombay Festival.
After moving back to Grand Rapids, MI in 2013, he quickly became a household name in the West Michigan DJ circuit sharing time and commitment between Lansing and GR. In 2016, Monk was the lead organizer for the Grand Rapids branch of HipHop 4 Flint which brought hiphoppas, businesses, activists, and concerned citizens from all over the state together for 2 events raising over $5K. The money raised bought effective home water filtration systems for families in Flint, MI in the wake of the Flint water crisis. He also maintains close ties with the Miami based youth non profit organization PATH (Preserving, Archiving, & Teaching Hip Hop) which uses hip hop history and culture to advance scholastic achievement, service learning, leadership, and entrepreneurship in under served communities.
Monk is always on the lookout for opportunities to engage youth and under served communities in the pursuit of positive social change through hip hop. Monk and friends provided youth mentorship at The Haven juvenile detention center in Grand Rapids, MI from 2014-August 2016. He has worked with various schools, community organizations, and non profits in the West Michigan area since 2013.
Nick Delacher aka Bboy Goblin aka DJ Nilbog aka Lambchop's Uncle Aloicious is the co-founder of the legendary Grand Rapids breaking crew 61Syx Teknique and a member of the Weapons of Rhythm (WOR) crew. Nick is known for raising eyebrows and causing spectators to lose their breath any time he hits the dance floor with his stunning power moves and floor work. He has spent time traveling the country teaching Hip Hop in various colleges and universities. When he is not amazing unsuspecting crowds or putting in work in a bboy battle, you will most likely find him behind 2 turntables or promoting his dope clothing line Well Done of which he is the owner and operator. Nick was born and bred in Grand Rapids, MI, loves graffiti art, eats pancakes for dinner with his shirt off, lounges by the porches of explicable sources of iron, critiques the covers of children's books, and most definitely is hip to the frog world.
Shirley “Chili” Heintzelman is an urban arts educator, choreographer and wellness facilitator in Grand Rapids MI. She has 16 years teaching dance, urban arts & Hip Hop culture in West Michigan. Moreover, wellness facilitation through group classes and personal training. In addition to her teaching capabilities, she has also excelled as a leader, mentor, and student. Fluent in Spanish Shirley enjoys working with people. Through volunteering and teaching, she has built relationships with a variety of communities and organizations. Shirley’s classes encourage students to broaden their creative abilities and to develop their strengths physically, mentally, and spiritually. Shirley is instrumental when bringing new and emerging concepts and program ideas to the table. Believing strongly in always being on the forefront of artistic and technological development and ways to teach them.
Dreas is a producer, DJ, and record collector from Grand Rapids, MI. After spending over a decade honing his craft in Chicago, he returned to Michigan and spearheaded the successful monthly Grand Rapids Soul Club party and brand. Dreas has shared the stage with artists like Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Peanut Butter Wolf, Mayer Hawthorne, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Killer Mike, Danny Brown and many others. He can often be seen spinning 45s from his deep crates of soul, funk, disco, and boogie records while sporting one of his one off clothing designs. Dreas also continues to run his boutique beat-oriented label, Heardrums Records, which saw it's birth in Chicago in the early 2000s. His production credits include tracks for regional and national emcees including Kool Keith and various creative and commercial placements.
Johnny Moody (AKA Aramis) is a Hip Hop recording artist out of Grand Rapids, MI. Aramis began getting into music at a young age, but had no idea he would eventually become an artist himself until reaching middle school. It was there, where he started listening to a lot of underground rock and hip hop. What started off as a simple hobby, ended up turning into a deep passion that he could not let go of.
Growing up listening to artists like Coolio, Busta Rhymes, Dj Quik, TLC, and a slew of others, Aramis began to subconsciously start creating his own rhymes. After coming across a particular internet forum where he saw other up and coming artists posting their recordings, he decided to do the same.
Using a cheap PC mic and recording software, he began recording his own songs and posting them online. It would be several years down the line before he would perform his first show. During this period of his life he met a young Florida-based rapper named David Campbell (AKA STRAT). Though never meeting physically, the two considered each other to be good friends, and ended up collaborating on quite a few tracks. Aramis Looked up to STRAT not only because of his talent as an artist, but because he was genuinely good person.
STRAT ended up taking his own life in mid 2008. Even though this deeply saddened Aramis, he vowed to push his music career as far he he could for himself, and to also honor his late friend. Aramis would then go on to compete in various rap battles and tournaments during which time he honed his skills and increased his knowledge of sound engineering and production.
Aramis dropped his first solo project, The Black Adam Mixtape, in June 2013; he has been making his mark in both Underground and Nerdcore Hip Hop music scenes ever since. Aramis' latest project, Hidden Agenda, was released on 1/20/2016. He is currently working on next project, which is scheduled to be completed and released at the end of this year.
Some of his goals are to develop and use my talents to the fullest extent and to spread knowledge and educate those who want to learn about Hip Hop.
Julius "Tron" Rogers is repping Vertical Ambition out of Flint, Michigan. Tron has been breaking since 2008. He has been an active member of the hip hop community from the first time he laid eyes on the culture. He spent the last 5 years teaching youth breaking and hip hop classes in and around the Flint area. He recently graduated from the University of Michigan - Flint and now resides in the city of Grand Rapids. Although breaking was his first love, DJing is a very close second. He is currently co-host to a radio mix show called "The Jam Session" that plays on WRCL Flint’s Club 93.7 every Friday night. Along with being an active dancer, he also is the lead organizer for an annual dance event called Flint Town Get Down, which takes place in Flint, MI every year. His purpose for joining AOTA is to continue helping the youth of our culture grow and expand.
Man@Work/Sir Manley aka David K Manley has continued to expand his abilities in business and life in order to be of better service to his family and community. As a native of LA, the long-time West Michigan resident has had a significant role in helping shape the West Michigan Hip Hop scene over the last 10 years. Therefore, contributing to “dozens” of releases with his production, emceeing, graphic design and audio engineering services.
Beyond the music, Manley is also known for having a first-hand knowledge of how to rebuild a life from ruins. As a felon, Manley has survived a long story of addiction and hardship which has created a strong testimony when encouraging others to take control of their lives. Manley has volunteered with the Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative and youth detention facilities in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon Counties over the last 10 years helping strengthen inmates upon release and assisting those on parole to stay a positive course.
As a business owner Manley continues to help families become home owners through his real estate company “davidmanleyrealestate.com” by partnering with local non-profits and organizations in order to assist families with alternative funding sources. “Helping others is the only business model he subscribes to”. Manley continues to champion win-win-win opportunities and is always looking for ways to connect the public with information that isn’t so public.
Manley is a father of 3 and proud husband who believes Hip Hop played a key role in saving his life. He always seems eager to share the benefits of the art form and its transforming abilities for individuals and communities at large. Manley believes that people need well rounded life skills to excel in life, and with an unorthodox approach he continues to offer value and hope to those who are looking to help themselves and others succeed.
Kamau "Dj ILL ONE" Williams has been djing and beatmaking for 26 years. He has spun in several Clubs, opened for several artists, done college radio and has battled in contests for about 4 years. He comes from a family with a musical background. He loves the discovery of good music and loves to share his talents with others. A one time member of the Zulu Nation, Beatnics crew and a known part of the Grand Rapids Hip Hop scene.
Kamau is always willing to teach the youth about the Hip Hop culture at any given moment and loves to share the gift of music with everyone.
Ant has been breakin since 2010, repping 61SYX TEKNIQUE out of Grand Rapids, MI. He thrives of off giving back to the Hip Hop culture and community. He mentors the youth of Grand Rapids every day. His truest inspiration comes from the free spirits of the kids he teaches. Ant has worked with animal shelters and youth programs for years. He currently teaches at 61SYX SDA and works with dogs at Family Friends Veterinary Hospital. His hobbies include digging for records, chocolate, and laughing with friends. Through All of The Above Hip-Hop Academy, Ant hopes to further engage the youth, our future, in accepting themselves and nurturing their creative mindsets. He believes in staying occupied with the things you love to do. "Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy person has no time to form"
Sean Powell aka Suport, is a rhyme writing recording artist born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Passionate about the creative process, Suport has released several projects and collaborations displaying versatility and lyrical finesse with various producers from the blossoming West Michigan Hip-Hop scene. With more music on the way, Suport remains active in the recording and performing process, regularly improving his skill set as an emcee.
Di Low is wordsmith on the mic and a martial artist. Di Low (die lao) is a Cantonese word that means big bother. In Chinese martial arts the most senior student is called the Big Brother or Di Low. This ideology is what lead Di Low to use the title given to him after 5 years as a practitioner of martial arts. Seniority in regards to faith & stewardship of the hip hop culture in Di Low's opinion, is not superiority it is practicality. Similarly as a good big brother ought to do he will spout wisdom, give examples, share in the failures and celebrate victories. Also like a good big brother he will keep it true whether in being there for you or guiding in the tough times.
DJ NAPP IS SOMETHING OF AN ANOMALY IN MUSIC. HE IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF VARIOUS HIP HOP SUBCULTURES. IN THE MID 1980'S, DJ NAPP BEGAN TO ATTEND BLOCK PARTIES THAT INFLUENCED HIM TO START HIS DJ JOURNEY AT THE TENDER AGE OF 12. HIS STAGE NAME WAS GIVEN TO HIM BY A CHILDHOOD FRIEND. FOR THE NEXT FEW EARLY TEEN YEARS HE WOULD CONCENTRATE ON TWO THINGS: MAKING BEATS AND MASTERING THE ART OF SCRATCHING AND CUTTING RECORDS. NOT ONLY WAS HE MIXING WITH GRACE AND FLUIDITY EARLY ON, BUT HE WAS ALSO EXCELLING AS A TURNTABLIST BEFORE THE USE OF COMPUTERS! THERE WERE ABOUT 25 DJS AT HIS HIGH SCHOOL AND THE OTHER DJS CONSIDERED HIM TO BE AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN.
AT ONLY 15 YEARS OLD HE JOINED HIS FIRST DJ BATTLE HELD IN A LOCAL RECORD STORE. THIS BEING HIS FIRST TIME DJING IN FRONT OF AN ACTUAL CROWD, HE SHOWED NOTHING BUT CHARISMA AND CONFIDENCE. NOT A SIGN OF NERVOUSNESS COULD BE FOUND. IN THE EARLY YEARS OF HIS DJ ADOLESCENCE HE SHOWED NO FEAR TO ANY COMPETITOR, NO FEAR TO ANY SIZE OF A CROWD, AND NO FEAR TO ANY SITUATION HE WAS CONFRONTED WITH WHEN BEHIND 2 TURNTABLES. HE LIVED FOR THESE MOMENTS. TO WIN OR LOSE MEANT NOTHING TO HIM. HE GAVE IT HIS BEST EVERY TIME AND HIS FELLOW DJ PEERS AND THE PUBLIC WOULD SEE A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR THIS YOUNG MAN. HE WAS THE FEATURED YOUNG AND UPCOMING DJ IN GRAND RAPIDS AT THAT TIME WHICH ALREADY HAD HUNDREDS OF ASPIRING DJS.
NAPP ADDED A NEW TOOL TO HIS WIDE AND DEADLY ARSENAL. HE STARTED TO PRODUCE HIS OWN MUSIC. NAPP PRODUCED BEATS FOR LOCAL ARTISTS. HE MADE A LARGER NAME FOR HIMSELF BY ORIGINATING A CREATIVE AND UNIQUE STYLE OF BREAK RECORDS (OR SCRATCH ALBUMS), CRAZY LOOPS, FLASH FADES, SAMPLE REVERSALS, OUT OF THIS WORLD SCRATCH SAMPLES, AND HIS RECORD COVERS (HAVE TO SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT!). SINCE THOSE DAYS OF MAKING BREAK BEAT RECORDS HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY SLOWED DOWN OVER THE YEARS. NAPP STILL AND WILL ALWAYS HOLD THAT ACCOMPLISHMENT.
IN 2010 DJ NAPP GAVE HIS LIFE BACK TO THE LORD. HE HAS HAD THE HONOR OF PLAYING CHRISTIAN/POSITIVE MUSIC FESTIVALS AND YOUTH CONFERENCES ACROSS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. HE HAS SHARED THE GOSPEL THROUGH CHRISTIAN/POSITIVE HIP-HOP AND R&B MUSIC OVER THE RADIO AND AT EVENTS TO A MULTITUDE OF PEOPLE SEEING THOUSANDS COME TO CHRIST. DJ NAPP HAS BEEN INVOLVED WITH MANY CHRISTIAN OWNED RECORD LABELS WORKING ON PROJECTS THAT NOT ONLY RAISE THE BANNER OF JESUS CHRIST THROUGH THE MUSIC BUT ALSO TOUCH THE LIVES OF THOSE ENSLAVED BY THE STREETS. HE WORKS ON PROJECTS THAT HELP RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT DEPRESSION AND HOMELESSNESS. DJ NAPP IS KNOWN FOR HIGH ENERGY PERFORMANCES THAT ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO PURSUE GOD WITH ALL OF THEIR HEART!
Nick Aggeler is a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years experience working with youth and families in Kent county. Having a passion for music, Nick has worked to teach youth music production and songwriting in a way that is therapeutic and educational.
Michigan-based artist Peazy is a raw edgy hip-hop talent hailing from Grand Rapids. Inspired by 2Pac, DMX and many other artists, Peazy brings a very unique style to the forefront which you can't deny. With his vocal inflection and his peculiar and witty lyrics, he will definitely demand your attention.
James “DJ James B” Burgen was born and raised in Grand Rapids MI. He grew up loving all kinds of music due to his father’s extensive record collection. To this day he uses some of those same records. He started deejaying in 2010 and soon after he realized he had a knack for creating a fresh vibe and reaching people through music. He spins clubs, parties, or any occasion in which he can share the gift of creating a dope vibe when the record spins. He is also the co-host of a radio show called "Sportheads Radio" in Grand Rapids, MI on 97.3 FM The Beat. James is a true hip hop head and continues to embed himself in hip hop culture whether old school or new school.
In a short period of time James has gained a lot of knowledge about deejaying and will share that knowledge with the youth or anyone else for that matter whenever he is called upon. James loves to see the youth in the community evolve through hip hop.
Michael Taylor aka Bboy K2 Rock was lost at sea at 6 months old but miraculously saved and brought to an undocumented island off the coast Africa by school of dolphins. Once brought to shore his luck continued when a rare breed of bald hyenas brought him into their pack and raised him as one of their own, that is, as a bald hyena. They called him "Ha Ha LOL". Once he was old enough and fit enough to care for himself (he says this was age 8), he decided to swim to the mainland of Africa to seek adventure. Lucky for him, the dolphins who saved him remained close to shore always hoping that the child would return. So when Ha Ha swam off into the dangerous ocean alone, the school of dolphins returned with delicious lumps of kelp that sustained him as they accompanied him on his swim to the mainland. On the way they taught him many proverbs and of course how to jump through large hoops of fire and bat beach balls back and forth with his nose.
Ha Ha finally made it to land after 2 weeks of aquatic tutelage. The dolphin leader, Anubis, bestowed blessings on him and sent him on his way. Ha Ha learned to fend for himself in a variety of habitats including grasslands, savannas, woodlands, deserts, forests, and mountains. He met and engaged with humans for the first time after spending many years alone in the wilderness and that is when things changed. A group of bald eunuchs took him in and taught him all their ways (except the ... well you know). His desire for knowledge was unquenchable. He diligently studied many languages, the complete history chariots, and Hip Hop culture. He quickly dropped his former language of hysterical laughter for more appropriate human dialects. (Being that hyenas are thought to "laugh" when they communicate, Michael often breaks out into uncontrollable laughter for seemingly no reason. Don't let that freak you out. He's just excited. It's just a remnant of his upbringing.) He was introduced to Youtube in a library where he began watching episodes of Different Strokes and breaking battles. He also was fond of 80s heavyweight boxing matches and clips of the football legend Lawrence Taylor. He has since become both the biggest fan on Earth of the 80s hit show Different Strokes and a master bboy. He changed his name to Michael Taylor in honor of his favorite boxer Michael Spinks and and favorite hard hitting linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
Michael Taylor moved to Grand Rapids, MI in 2010. No one knows why but that is what he did. He quickly began breaking in westside laundromats and was eventually brought into the Grand Rapids, MI breaking crew 61Syx Teknique. He was given the name K2 Rock because he eats 2 boxes of Special K cereal daily and must be rocked to sleep every night. The rest is Grand Rapids breaking history
K2 loves teaching youth about breaking, Hip Hop history, and how to survive alone in isolated regions of the globe.
White Fang (Preza Blanca) is an emcee and producer from Grand Rapids. He spent 13 years in Miami, FL where he was involved in the local music scene as a front man for Organic Flow and half of the dynamic duo, Zolomun Grunji. Fang moved back to Grand Rapids in 2017 and joined AOTA with a desire to mentor youth and play his part in preserving Hip Hop as a positive instrument that moves far beyond music. He loves furry animals, cheese, and freestyle rapping.