By Aaris A. Schroeder
Rahman Jamaal McCreadie, a.k.a. Rahman Jamaal, born ’81, started attending public school in Redwood City, CA where, according to him, having non-descript ethnic qualities was not readily understood by his classmates. He struggled with an educational system that had no structure and no authority, so when his teacher suggested an expensive yet reputable school in Hillsborough called Nueva, his mother worked hard to get him accepted.
After a few years of getting acclimated to the new environment, he began receiving music scholarships and discovered a passion for theater that eventually landed him lead roles in Macbeth and Hamlet. Rahman later was accepted into Menlo School, where his other passions for writing and poetry resulted in him rapping a graduation speech about each of his classmates in ‘00.
Rahman then received a full scholarship to major in film at University of Southern CA. He left with a Bachelor of Arts in Critical Studies and minors in Music Industry and Communications. While in college, Jamaal hooked up with Brandon Sonnier who had the idea of creating a film about an emcee that was torn between his desire to rap for a living and following his father’s aspirations. Sonnier asked Rahman if he would compose the music for the film as well as act out the lead character, Flip. The film was a success as it was taken to Sundance Film Festival receiving an award for youngest director to break a film.
“I began to take music seriously,” says Rahman after the film had been completed who would like to perform with the likes of Dead Prez, The Wu Tang Clan and Immortal Technique.
At USC, he met Jordan Bromley who, along with Ron Gubitz, were putting together a community network with Shamako Noble & Reali Robinson III who were forming an artist network, both under the name Hip-Hop Congress. When they decided to fuse into one organization, Rahman’s initial role became chairing the first college campus chapter after Bromley and Gubitz graduated. Getting involved with non-profit work and Hip -Hop Congress allowed Rahman to begin the process of understanding the current system of education and its role in society. Now, Hip-Hop Congress is 70 chapters deep is affiliated with universities, high schools and also community-recognized. Hip-Hop Congress is still a grassroots artist network but on a much larger scale. Every year, Hip-Hop Congress holds a special conference for their member that includes live music, industry panels, live dance and art as well as performing arts workshops.
“[At] first conferences were to define Hip-Hop but then it is also this huge collective movement to change our world for the better,” explains Rahman who has worked hard to not have a 9-5, “I am trying to figure out if it is actually possible to make a living doing what I love.”
After graduating, Rahman worked with Shamako Noble to establish one of the first hip-hop curriculums in his hometown at the Riekes Center called “The Academy of Hip-Hop,” an 8-week course covering the art of emceeing, writing, recording, and performing. Rahman is now working for Performing Arts Workshop bringing his program to various sites around the Bay Area, including the Visitation Valley Beacon Center, and Visitacion Valley Boys and Girls Club. Rahman’s role in Hip-Hop Congress is to coordinate chapters on the West Coast.
Getting involved with non-profit work to assist young people and teaching martial arts at the All-Star Karate Center in Redwood City has allowed Rahman to begin the process of getting away from the system. He teaches dance, theater, creative writing and rap in after-school programs. He is also the lead singer of a rock band called, Blood Sugar Sex Machine, a tribute to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, and James Brown. Rahman’s spare time, he enjoys reading books such as “2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl” by Daniel Pinchbeck and the “Urantia Papers;” both recommended, as well as going to the movies and watching films such as “What the Bleep Do We Know” and playing chess on his iPhone.
Rahman strong opinions about our government are obvious, “Capitalism needs to be understood from a right-wing perspective. [Things] are bound to change. [We] need to recognize the importance of education and arts. There will be a revolution of the arts that the government will need to recognize.”
He also believes that hip-hop needs to take care of itself in these times, to get stronger in a way that it can allow people to find their own unique individuality, educating each other on the roots of an underground community.
“We are allowing the community to define hip-hop. We need to find more organic ways to describe this,” says Rahman who is also learning more about how Americans should go back to their roots and understand that if they are born in America that they are Native Americans.
Rahman is working on his first official album but he released “Jazzhop Revolution” collaboratively with John Lindberg, a jazz musician as well as music from “The Beat.” Recently, Jamaal performed at the Washington Center in Sacramento, CA for the Hip-Hop Congress, Sacramento Community Chapter’s Hip-Hop Awareness Festival and is interested in continuing his performance relationship in this city.