Keynote Speakers

A.C.E. Studios LLC (Always Creating Excellence), is a dance company that specializes in the foundation and roots of hip hop dance (breaking, popping, locking, animation). With over 14 years of experience in the industry we have credits with Lecrae, Doug E FResh, Kool Moe Dee, Monie Love, HBO, FOX, VH1, Super Bowl LXIII, and more. We believe in spreading the culture of hip hop in a positive way, through peace, unity, love, and having fun.
Deandra Clarke is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.A. in Radio Broadcasting: Mass Communications. Deandra decided to expand her 12-year recreational dance career by founding 4 The Streetz Choreography in 2002; a Hip-Hop based performance company affording opportunities for dancers looking to pursue their careers post high school. Professionally trained in Los Angeles, Deandra has previously performed with Ne-Yo, Alicia Keys, Hilary Duff, the Disney Channel, and more. Upon her return to Richmond in 2009, she has been heavily involved in the independent music industry, choreographing for local and national artists, coaching dance teams, and teaching at several dance studios in the area. Currently in the 21st year of her professional dance career, Deandra is an accomplished choreographer, dance instructor, dance advocate and Professor of Hip-Hop Dance History at the University of Richmond, She has been championing the growth of the local dance community through dance initiatives such as the Virginia Dance Awards (Founder and Artistic Director), Studio 4 Dance, LLC (Owner and Dance Agent) and the Virginia Commission of the Arts (Advisory Panel). 
Antar K. Fierce was born and raised in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York in the early 1970s. Fierce witnessed the origins of Hip-Hop culture and its expansion from The Bronx and Harlem to the rest of the New York City boroughs – and ultimately the world. In 1985 Fierce took an interest in the elaborate highly stylized paintings on the New York City subway and began documenting, collecting, and archiving it. His education in art began on the subway platforms of New York City in the 1980s, at a time when Hip-Hop was coming into its own.  He relocated to Atlanta, Georgia in 1989 to attend Clark Atlanta University.  After graduating with a B.A. in History, Fierce entered the workforce. He spent the next 20 years in the corporate world as a Training Instructor.  After his stint in Corporate America, Fierce earned a master’s degree in Creative and Innovative Education from Georgia State University. Today, Antar practices the idea that creativity, art and technology can work together to include authentic learning and equity in educational spaces. Simultaneously, Fierce is working to incorporate the history of graffiti and Hip-Hop as a serious course of study at the college and university level.
Curt Jackson is currently working on his PhD in 20th century U.S. and urban history His proposed dissertation explores the relationships between the cultural production of Pittsburgh’s nightlife subcultures, the corporate appropriation of subculture, and gentrification in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He has assisted in the development of several digital map research projects for the Student Innovation Fellowship’s ATLMaps platform including the 1960s Atlanta Sit-Ins walking tour and the Democratic Socialists of America National Convention walking tour of Atlanta. Currently, he mentors undergraduates various history digital humanities projects, including the archive, The Krog Codex. He is also a co-author and research assistant for the forthcoming 1960s Atlanta Sit-Ins Reacting to the Past role-playing history game. In his spare time, he is a lifelong record collector, DJ, avid foodie, and cinephile.
Dr. David James is a software engineer, researcher and musician, who focuses on the intersection between art, black music and computing. Over the past 12 years he has developed and published techniques to teach fundamental Computer Science courses by building hip hop instruments like turntables, drum machines, and samplers. David, a native of Brooklyn,NY, has earned a PhD and a Master’s degree  in Information Science and Technology from Syracuse University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer and Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has created computer science courses integrated with black music at Loyola University Maryland, George Washington University and Spelman College.
“If Hip-Hop is not used for our liberation, it will be used for our destruction” – IFe JIe    Dr. IFe JIe is a South Central Los Angeles native and brings a unique African sensibility, pride and aesthetic to her art and work as a Hip-Hop artist, Hip-Hop activist and Hip-Hop scholar. After graduating from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles California, IFe JIe began her journey with Hip-Hop.   As an artist, she has appeared on mixtapes with rappers such as Stic Man of Dead Prez and the Dr. Mutulu Shakur Dare 2 Struggle Compilation Tribute to 2pac Shakur and performed at events such as the Black August Hip-Hop Concert alongside artists such as Sampa the Great, Rapsody, Mos-Def and Sa-Roc. She has also released several music videos on Youtube and three albums including her Freshman album The Godmother of them All, Sophomore album #RealBlackGirls and her most recent project Street Sankofa, produced by Grammy nominated and seminal producer of Nipsey Hussle, Ralo Stylez. IFe JIe is currently the co-host of the show Cut to the Chase on 90.7fm KPFK in Los Angeles California.
As an activist, IFe JIe has worked as an event planner and community organizer for over 20 years with the Malcolm X Grassroots Organization, a national organization dedicated to liberation of African American people, and has organized events such as the Annual Malcolm X Festival, the Mutulu Shakur Benefit Concert, Sistas for Assata Concert, Annual Kwanzaa programs and more. She has also worked with the youth organization, the New Afrikan Scouts as a Political Education teacher and camp counselor. She has humbly worked on campaigns to free political prisoners such as Jamil Al-Amin, Kamau Sadiki, and most recently Dr. Mutulu Shakur.  As a scholar, IFe JIe began to research Hip-Hop as an undergraduate McNair Scholar at Georgia State University focusing on Africanisms in Hip-Hop music and Culture, ultimately earninga Bachelor’s of Arts degree in African American Studies, and a doctoral degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in Urban Education. Through her doctoral studies Dr. IFe JIe introduced the term Hip-Hopcentricity to refer to the type of education utilizing elements of Hip-Hop culture and she proposed an additional element of Hip-Hop culture, “hustling.”  Currently Dr. Ife JIe teaches African American Studies at Los Angeles Trade and Technical College.
Muqita Lumumba is a professionally trained fashion patternmaker, designer and garment constructor, who graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City in 1985. She continues to offer her sewing skills to a variety of community projects including sewing instruction. In 1992, Ms. Lumumba developed her design business under the name “AimStrong Productions,” which specializes in male African centered clothing. Additionally, she developed “Pattern 4 Life” for a variety of generalized sewn products.  Ms. Lumumba also created and produces “Deep Cover Carry,” which is a unique, customized concealed holster product line for handguns.
In 2000 Ms. Lumumba was requested by Dr. Mutulu Shakur to assist in the Dare 2 Struggle project, which was a tribute to his son, Tupac Shakur. She eventually became manager of the program and the Hip Hop group of the same name.  As manager, she received music from inmates at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, who hoped to have their work developed for production. Her responsibilities and contributions to the D2S project were many: she was driver, tour booking agent, website designer, accounting manager, photographer, and road mother to a multitude of young people. Today, Ms. Lumumba continues her long-standing community activism, specializing in the security elements of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the New Afrikan People’s Organization, Opposition Research, and the Black Voter’s Matter Fund.
Sheryl Merritt is a writer and communications strategist who started her professional career in corporate and moved into the entertainment industry where she has enjoyed a 25-plus year long career. In entertainment, she served as executive assistant, director of marketing, and general manager and has written scripts for award shows and for music-oriented TV and talk radio shows.  Sheryl started her career in Hip-Hop at Atlanta’s first Hip-Hop Radio Station – Hot 97.5.  Moving from radio to records, she worked first with production company powerhouse – Organized Noize Productions – producers for OutKast and Goodie MoB, and later with Rowdy Records – Dallas Austin’s company. Other stints included gospel label Arrow Records, CaJo International and working various projects with her company, ATLast. Sheryl has worked with BMI as a writer for their annual BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards and R&B/Hip-Hop Icon Awards and has written for Urban One Honors and the Black Music and Entertainment Walk of Fame. She has produced a TV commercial for a law firm and served as Associate Producer for a documentary and the Stellar Awards Pre-Show.  Most recently, she wrote the script for Atlanta Hip-Hop 50 – Yesterday, Today and 404Ever – for the city’s celebration of the birthday of Hip-Hop. Her current company, Creator In Me, houses her creative projects.
Dee Dee “Peaches” Murray is an entertainment professional with over 30 years of industry experience.  Dee Dee is the owner of Murray Media Production Partners, LLC, a private agency that provides film permitting facilitation, entertainment industry consulting and a host of a la carte services to support the growing motion picture industry in the State of Georgia. A graduate of Savannah State University with a Bachelors of Arts Degree, Dee Dee’s work has supported the careers of nationally recognized recording artist such as The Whispers, The Gap Band, MC Hammer, Full Force and Freddie Jackson. Dee Dee managed Organized Noize Productions and played an intricate role in the development of the Dungeon Family and it’s roster of award winning artist including Outkast and Goodie Mob. For fifteen years Dee Dee was responsible for production management, publishing administration, and contract negation. Dee Dee is featured in the Netflix documentary “The Art of Organized Noize” which chronicles the production company’s musical impact over the past twenty years.  Dee Dee has served as General Manager of Big Boi’s (Outkast) record label, Purple Ribbon Records; Executive Director of Clifford “T.I.” Harris’ non-profit, The K.I.N.G. Foundation; and Director of A&R Administration of Perri “Pebbles” Reid’s label, Savvy Records.  Dee Dee has been a member of the Atlanta Chapter of The Recording Academy since 2004, serving as Governor and National Trustee from 2006-2011.  During her tenure as Trustee, Dee Dee served on the National Executive, Finance and Membership Committees. In addition, Dee Dee is a founding board member of the UGA Music Business Certificate Program and a past board member of The Friends of Georgia Music (GA Music Hall of Fame).   Dee Dee’s clients have included The DeKalb County Entertainment Commission and The City of Decatur Film Office.
Big Rube is known as one of the pioneers who helped develop the sound of Atlanta, Ruben “Big Rube” Bailey was born in Atlanta, Georgia on September 27th, 1971.  As a child, he was very interested in art and enjoyed drawing and painting. At age 13, he decided that he wanted to rap. At age 18, he co-founded “Organized Noize” and later on was featured on Outkast’s debut album, “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” which was released in 1994. He was also a member of the funk group, “Society of Soul” comprised of himself, Esperonza, and the Organized Noize production trio of Sleepy Brown, Rico Wade and Ray Murray.    Since then, he has been featured on several records, and has appeared on Def Poetry Jam. For more than 6 years, Big Rube authored an editorial column in “Rolling Out Urban Style Weekly” which was a free periodical aimed at the black community. Big Rube has always been, and is continuously an advocate for furthering the education and quality of life of all people, everywhere. Big Rube continues to actively participate in the industry being featured as a Top 50 Emcee on Hip-Hop Nation’s TV and lending his poetry to Big Boi’s Sleepover album.  Additionally, he has also contributed to a poetry compilation album and recently release his own spoken word album “A Thought Weapon.”
Queen Sheba is the Founder of Poetry vs. Hip-Hop, and a GRAMMY COLLABORATED Master Spoken Word Artist and Poet and was featured on the Grammy Nominated album “F-Your Feelings” by Robert Glasper. Sheba has nine albums, four of which were up for a Grammy under the Spoken Word category. Her works have appeared in numerous anthologies, and magazines including Voyage ATL, Creative Loafing, Rolling Out and the focus of college student’s papers, everywhere! Queen Sheba is, also, a current Grammy U Mentor, teaching college students about the billion-dollar Art and Entertainment industry. Sheba has two books: LONG STORY SHORT: FROM FOSTER CARE TO FAME Long-er Poems & Short Two (2012) and RUN UGLY! A motivational book for runners – or people thinking about running (2012). A two-time NAACP Image Award Nominee; Atlanta’s Creative Loafing’s People’s Choice Spoken Word Artist of the Year; a recent candidate for the Atlanta Public School Board; and a Professor of Creative Writing at Clark Atlanta University, Sheba has also received the Gentlemen’s Foundation ‘Gentle Woman of Artistry’s Artist of the Year award for her work in the LGBT community for HIV Prevention. Additionally, Queen Sheba has been a featured poet on various televisions shows including “Verses and Flow, Lyric Café, 106 & Park and the Apollo. Amongst her achievements Queen Sheba has be recognized as an International 4-Countries Slam Champion, two-time National Poetry Slam Champ, three-time. Regional Poetry Slam Champ and a Women of the World & Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist.   You can join her community: @thequeensheba on all social media to find out what Queen Sheba has coming up next!  Download her recent album on all streaming platforms: The Fukc-It Pill. Buy her book on Amazon: From Fostercare to Fame.;;; 404-697-9734; Poetry vs. Hip-Hop, LLC.
Dedren Snead is an artist, developer, creative consultant, emerging technologist and futurist from Atlanta, Georgia. Dedren uses graphic novels, animation, gaming and augmented reality to build inclusive storytelling platforms in the Metaverse that performs for social good.  His futures company SUBSUME looks to close the digital Divide between marginalized voices and cultures through inclusive shared media works that fosters technology equity and makes the transmedia experience accessible and sustainable for all. A serial entrepreneur, his most recent project is an educational technology platform that connects K-12 and early-career students to pathways in creative and technical careers through gamified project-based learning modules and workforce development.  Dedren hosts SUBSUME SUMMIT a series of virtual and hybrid engagements centered around Afrofuturism and Speculative Fiction in comic books, games, film and art to foster growth for Black and BIPOC+ creatives a space to develop and share their expertise.
Also known for his award-nominated fantasy comic book series SORGHUM & SPEAR, Dedren created an anthology-centered saga featuring African folklore and history to highlight a world of warrior women.  Dedren is a current Innovator of Residence at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Global Studies and Economics with the Shuford Entrepreneurship Program and an Artist In Residence at Georgia State University’s Creative Media Industries Institute in Digital Media, Game Design, and Futurism for 2022-2023. He also is a program consultant with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Digital Media Labs Lifelong Kindergarten Digital Education team. Devout Southerner. Wandering Creative Technologist. Happy Dad.
Mother Superia- Miami born and bred Mother Superia was one of the earliest female emcees from her city to secure a deal with a major record label. Known for her lyrical prowess, Mother Superia set the stage for generations of MCs that would follow. Traditionally, Miami is known for its beloved bass sound more so than lyrical content however, that would change in 1996 when Mother Superia let the world know that her city had a strong Hip Hop scene with an equally strong lyrical presence. Somewhere between the bass-backed trailblazing style of Uncle Luke and the boisterous thuggery of Trick Daddy is Mother Superia. Often credited by her contemporaries as coining the term “the Bottom of the map” in a Hip Hop context, this Rap visionary dismissed notions of fortune and fame from the beginning and was faithfully devoted to simply enjoying a therapeutic outlet to release her perspectives as a B-girl growing up in Miami in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Mother Superia’s local anthem “Rock Bottom” an ode to her city, was the catalyst for her major deal. Her debut album “Levitation” was released on Island Record’s 4th & Broadway. The album included production from KRS-1, L.E.S, Dj Slice, and Mr. Sunday to name a few. The album’s single “Most of All” was produced by Redman and she has toured with KRS-1 and Warren G. Mother Superia’s love of Hip Hop started early in the history of the culture as she drew inspiration from Female emcees Sweet Tee and Mc Lyte at which point she knew emceeing would save her from taking the wrong path. After relocating to Atlanta, GA Superia connected with Chyle MC to create the group BREAKROOM under the alias Savannah Jones. That union produced 2 albums, Beautiful Universe and Classic Breakup. Over the years Mother Superia aka Savannah Jones has continued to bless the mic with features on DJ EFN’s projects “From the Bottom” and “#HomeTeam” . Superia’s most recent contribution “Disconnected” is featured on the album titled “Chocklit Barz and String Cheeze” produced by Mz. Melz.
Minister Server Tavares –  Hip Hop Cultural Strategist, a dynamic leader with spiritual conviction, inspirational skills and practical solutions. He is a committed leader with integrity who has spent over 30 years dedicated to the development, growth and preservation of Hip Hop culture.  After graduating from the ministry school in 2003, Minister Server was named as a Spiritual Advisor to Hip Hop pioneer, KRS-One and appointed Lead Minister/National Organizer with the Temple of Hip Hop movement. He currently serves as an advisor with the Universal Zulu Nation; Generation Hip Hop; Trinity International Hip Hop Festival, Universal Hip Hop Museum, Black Power Media and many other Hip Hop organizations. He has lectured at many colleges, universities, schools and community groups around the world about the meaning, purpose and importance of Hip Hop culture, beyond entertainment.
He toured two years nationally with KRS-One as his Hypeman/DeeJay (he also performs of five songs on the 2004 “Keep Right” album). In 2005, Minister Server was inspired to return to Atlanta to start Higher Infinite Power Healing Our People(HIPHOP) Ministries, which utilizes his skills as a Minister, Life Coach, Strategist, Consultant and Inspirational Speaker, working with individuals and organizations to “Enlighten, Inspire and Empower” people!  He teaches Hip Hop culture as life-strategies for self-identification, self-improvement and self-empowerment, which leads to positive social change!  The Hip Hop community is anticipating the release of Minister Server’s first book, “Minister Server’s 7 Suggestions for HIPHOP Empowerment & Personal Fulfillment”, where he shares empowering lessons about how to activate your spiritual gifts to experience life more abundantly!  Minister Server is a divorced father of six adult children, he currently resides in Atlanta, GA.
Watani Tyehimba, born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1951 and raised between there and Los Angeles, California, Watani Tyehimba became politically active as a student after the “1965 Watts Rebellion”. He attended California State University, Northridge (CSUN), obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree in Afro-American Studies and served in the leadership of one of the most progressive Black Student Unions (BSU) in the country. Mr. Tyehimba is a Certified Protection Professional (CPP), Board Certified in Security Management and a Board Certified Criminal Defense Investigator (CCDI). He is the President and CEO of Tyehimba Services, Inc. (TSI), which specializes in criminal defense, mitigation and post-conviction investigations in complex high profile capital cases and issues regarding use of force & forensic firearms evidence. TSI further distinguishes itself by providing services that deal with human rights issues; the defense of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War and governmental agencies’ abuse of power. From 1998 to 2012 Mr. Tyehimba was an Adjunct Instructor for Georgia Piedmont Technical College, teaching Private Investigation and Security Officers courses. He is an Advisory Board Member for the Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council; and a faculty member for the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, the Georgia Capital Defenders and the National Association for Public Defense. From 1993 through 1995, Mr. Tyehimba and his company provided film and music management services for “high profile” artist, Tupac Shakur. This provided an invaluable insight into the entertainment industry on all levels. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, Brother Watani served in a leadership capacity of many campaigns and organizations and helped to establish various institutions in Los Angeles, California, such as the House of Umoja (RAM Black Panther Party); Center for Black Survival and the Campaign to free Geronimo JiJaga (Pratt). He is a co-creator of one of the martial arts systems known as Kupigana Ngumi (The New Afrikan Combat System) and co-founder of the Afrikan Institute of Martial Arts (AIMA). He served as Southern California Representative for the National Task Force for COINTELPRO Litigation and Research and the Western Regional Coordinator for the National Black Human Rights Coalition. He is a founding member the New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. After relocating to the Atlanta, Georgia area in 1989, Mr. Tyehimba helped to establish the Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination and its various programs. As a direct result of Mr. Tyehimba ‘s efforts to educate and organize for the liberation of his people, he became a political prisoner himself in 1986, incarcerated for fourteen months in Terminal Island Federal Prison for taking a principled stance of non-collaboration in regards to a Federal Grand Jury investigation into the New Afrikan Independence Movement. In 1990, he traveled to Zimbabwe, on behalf of New Afrikan Freedom Fighter, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, as an investigative member of the legal team to determine the possibility of the government of Zimbabwe taking custody of Dr. Shakur. Over the past fifty years, Mr. Tyehimba‘s involvement, experience and commitment has led him to travel extensively nationally and internationally, addressing many forums on various topics. He has appeared on radio and television programs as well as documentary film works effectively addressing issues from both a historical and contemporary point of view.
Dr. Akinyele Umoja is a scholar-activist and Professor of Africana Studies at Georgia State University. Umoja is the author of the award-winning book, We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance and the Mississippi Freedom Movement (2013). Professor Umoja also co-edited another prizewinning publication, the two-volume Black Power Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2018). His scholarship is also featured in several other journals and anthologies, including editing a special issue of The Black Scholar (2018) on revolutionary activist, attorney, and Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, Chokwe Lumumba and co-editing a special issue of the journal SOULS (2022) on the political legacy of recently released political prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur. Professor Umoja has contributed to numerous documentaries, including the PBS Frontline “American Reckoning” (2022) and BET’s “American Gangster” on Dr. Mutulu Shakur (2008).
Umoja is well recognized within the national scholarly community evidenced by his position as a Board member of the National Council of Black Studies and his service on the Advisory Board of the journal The Black Scholar. The National Council of Black Studies (2008) and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (1998) acknowledged him for his activism. Umoja was also inducted into Selma, Alabama’s Hall of Resistance in the Enslavement and Civil War Museum during the city’s annual Bridge Crossing and Jubilee Celebration in 2016. Dr. Umoja is also an internationally recognized scholar as he has presented his scholarship internationally in Germany, Spain, Haiti, and Venezuela, as well as is published in Spanish and German languages.
Emile YX is a multiple award winning South African Hip Hop Elder, founder of the pioneering breakdancing crew Pop Glide Crew from 1982, Hip Hop group Black Noise formed in 1988 and Heal The Hood Project started in 1998. In 1993 he created South Africa’s 1st Hip Hop Magazine Da Juice. In 1997 he was part of the South African breakdance team that won 3rd place at the World Breakdance Champs, Battle Of The Year. He has since raised funds to send more than 250 young artists to international Hip Hop events. In 2010 Heal the Hood Project won the award for the Best Hip Hop Organization in the World. In 2016 he won the national  LeadSA Award ,  as well as the ETV South Heroes Award. In 2019 he was inducted into the South African Hip Hop Museums Hall of Fame. He has recorded and released 26 albums solo, with Black Noise in Mixed Mense. He featured on numerous compilation albums released throughout the world. Emile has written and contributed to 24 books, for which he won The Western Cape Arts & Culture Literary Award. His latest book is Reconnect the String. He created and performed 5 plays, one of them being the award winning play,  Afrikaaps. He created numerous events like African Battle Cry, African Hip Hop Indaba, Cape Flats Film Festival ,  Positive Posters Week ,  Up the Rock ,  Shut Up Just Dance , just to name a few. He is the first to create a Hip Hop Cultural Education based Arts Syllabus derived from experiential learning and teaching through his Practical Hip Hop School,  Mixed Mense. Emile has shared the stage with famous artists and personalities like President Nelson Mandela, Dr Alan Boesak, Brenda Fassie, The Queen of Sweden, Baba Maal, Salif Keita, Manu Dibangu, Snoop Doggy Dog, Kyle Shepherd, Arrested Development and numerous others. In 2020 he completed an International B-boy / Breaking Dance Teaching Certificate. Completed 4 new books in 2022, Hip Hop Cultural Education, We Live This co-written by Paulskeee, A Colouredful Life and Making A Black Noise Part 1 and contributed to a book titled The 5th Element. He also won the 2022 American Association for Applied Linguistics Distinguished Public Service Award.