Chaka Mkali, also known as I Self Devine is a musician, Mc, community organizer, racial justice trainer, graffiti artist, muralist, program coordinator and director of organizing and community building at Hope Community Center in Minneapolis.
As an Mc, I Self is known as an integral part of the Atlanta and Twin Cities underground Hip Hop community as ½ of the duo Micranots, ½ of Semi Official, ¼ of the Dynospectrum, and as a soloist. Over the last decade I Self has released over 10 albums of political conscious socially aware music capable of moving the crowd as well as uplift the spirit and sustain the movement.
As a graffiti artist and muralist, Chaka Mkali is recognized as one of the crucial figures in the revitalization of graffiti art in the Twin Cities using the skills developed in the streets, alley ways, walls and store fronts of Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Atlanta.
As The Director of Organizing and Community Building Chaka has developed impressive work with very diverse largely low income teens and young adults that is impacting individual lives and collectively helping to bring change to a challenged community.
Hope Community where he works is a community development organization that crafted and implemented a vision for change in a community that had been largely written off by others. Hope developed 173 units of rental housing in healthy attractive buildings where there was devastation. Hope works with hundred of diverse adults and youth each year through extensive community engagement. Hope doesn’t provide social services, instead all of their work creates opportunities for people to build power for themselves and their community. Chaka’s leadership, organizing and relationships make a real growing impact as people work together to build an alternative to gentrification in their community using art music and organizing
In the course of six years Chaka Mkali has created,facilitated, or directed the following programs:
SPEAC (Sustainable Progress through Engaging Active Citizens): An eight-month community organizing and neighborhood leadership training for teens and young adults. The training consists of learning about power, how to deal with power brokers, power and asset mapping, media justice, racial justice, political theatre, relation ships, research action and evaluation, public and private life, democracy, citizenship, and the three faces of power (visible decision makers, setting the political agenda, and shaping the meaning).
Articulating our Voices Now: an 11 week arts-based relational group facilitated by women artists/performers of color designed as a rites of passage program celebrating womanhood and creation through expression and critical analysis using photography, spoken word, and film
Art of MC’ing: is a youth run Hip Hop studio program were youth learn how to tell their story through writing, music production, engineering, song structure, leadership, performance, cooperative learning, hip Hop culture, team building, discipline, taking a project through several stages to completion, setting up shows, entrepreneurship,
Power of Vision Mural Program: Is a program were youth and young adults learn about community beautification, telling your story, neighborhood transformation, dispelling the negative myths of graffiti, can control, public speaking, and learning how to defend their images .The murals served as a medium for youth to build a greater sense of power and ownership in the community, expressed through self-advocacy, new skills and confidence.