“Your beliefs shouldn’t determine who you work with.”
“How to take in negative images into positive images.”
By Tenaj Gueory
Words Beats & Life was originally founded as a hip-hop conference at the University of Maryland, College Park in the fall of 2000. As the brainchild of Mazi Mutafa, Executive Director, WBL was developed and researched at the University of Maryland with two fellow students who wanted to continue the hip-hop conference after graduation. When the Black Student Union decided they could manage the conference without the help of alumni, Words Beats and Life was faced with the option of dissolving or moving in a new direction. More than anything, the founders wanted Words Beats and Life to be a vehicle to transform individual lives and communities through hip-hop. In 2003, WBL was officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization with 501c3 status in the District of Columbia and began developing its first program, The Urban Arts Academy (now known as the Words Beats & Life Academy).
We had a blast at Words, Beats, and Life. We talked with Mazi. He told us how WBL was created and we also talked about Mr. Andy from Busboys and Poets for a little. We enjoyed ourselves a lot. We saw some break dancers, who were doing their thing. We also did a little Dj as well. S.K. and H.I. were in the dj class the whole time. Jatalia, I.Y., A.T., Rebekah, and Tenaj were floating. C.T. went to graffiti and to the dj class. We really had a good time. Some of us want to go back and actually take a class with them. Some say that was the best thing we did.
The Big Ideas
The two quotes above are two things that stuck out to us while we were at WBL. The first quote (Your beliefs shouldn’t determine who you work with) Mazi told us this because he wanted us to know that we didn’t have to agree on everything as long as we could agree on some things. The second quote (How to take in negative images into positive images) is what we got from him. He wanted to turn the negative things about hip hop and graffiti and make them positive.