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Hip-Hop Studies Faculty

Zach Bagaason

Zach Bagaason is a Minneapolis-based hip-hop producer, performer and educator - as well as co-founder of the Mexican-American rap-duo Big Quarters. Big Quarters' self-produced debut  album "Cost of Living" earned recognition as Best Hip-Hop of 2007 by Startribune and Popmatters.com. Big Quarters' follow-up "From the Home of Brown Babies & White Mothers" received acknowledgement as one of the Best Albums of 2009 by Star Tribune.

Zach is a co-founder of the Twin Cities only monthly hip-hop production event "Last of the Record Buyers" and former-organizer of the TCCHH production battle from 2004 - 2007. He is also a co-founder of Minnesota's most-respected and recognized production crew, Famfeud. Individual accolades include 3-time Run Ya Jewelz Beat Battle Champion and Minneapolis' Big Tune semi-finalist.

Zach, alongside brother Brandon "Allday" Bagaason, developed a hip-hop songwriting and production curriculum currently used with young people in the Minneapolis YMCA. Past workshop and program sites include: La Oportunidad, Hope Community, Inter District Downtown School, Minneapolis YMCA, Pillsbury United Communities and McNally Smith College of Music.

Zach has shared stages with Cee-Lo, Slum Village, The Coup, Rhymesayers, Doomtree and Heiruspecs. As a producer, he's worked with Brother Ali, I Self Devine, Toki Wright, P.O.S, Sims, Musab, Power Struggle, Mankwe Ndosi and Mux Mool.

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Freddy Fresh

Freddy Fresh (born Frederick Schmid) is among the most active and prolific American underground dance music artists, having released more than a hundred records on dozens of different labels worldwide. Born in St. Paul Minnesota, Fresh's name is more often associated with the London scene, to which he relocated in the late '90s after having top 40 chart success with 2 of his songs. Fresh's first record label was formed in late 1992 and was called Analog Recordings. His label empire then grew to include a host of sub labels (Analog UK, Butterbeat, Electric Music Foundation and then Socket and Boriqua labels) In addition to a growing stateside audience, Fresh is also one of the few contemporary non-Detroit techno/electro musicians to have a strong European following.

Fresh's first work behind the boards came via Bronx legends Boogie Down Productions, with Fred remixing a track for a B-side release and from there, Freddy began piecing together a studio, collecting many of the ancient analog and modular synthesizers that give his records their distinct, almost studio-jam feel (he mixes all his tracks live and sequences with an MPC 2oooXL and an MPC 4000 and uses rare pre-midi analog synths and modular systems). In 1992, after releasing debut singles on Nu Groove and Silvo Tancredis' Experimental imprint, Fresh established his first label, Analog, to release his own tracks.  His third album, The Last True Family Man, followed on Harthouse Eye Q and spawned 2 international chart hits along with a song featuring Fat Boy Slim.

In 2004 Fresh released a reference book dealing with the history of the early independent old school rap scene that catalogues every conceivable rap label from 1979 to 1989, this book has been featured in The Source, Vibe, The New York Times, Village Voice and has gone on to win journalism awards in the United States and has been recognized as the only reference book on this subject. The book is called Freddy Fresh presents The Rap Records (Nerby Publishing LLC). Freddy recently released the brand new updated Freddy Fresh presents The Rap Records Revised 2nd Edition a mammoth book with over 740 pages and more than 2,500 color photo's.

Fresh's music has also enjoyed commercial success with releases featured in films like Austin Powers Goldmember, Jackie Chan's Tuxedo and commercials by Adidas, Budweiser and Coors Lite etc.. Fresh also tours regularly and has DJ'd in over 34 countries and has performed for televised programs MTV Canada, Club TV, S2, House Viva TV, Club Spain etc.. and over 300 radio programs throughout the world including 2 sessions for the legendary late John Peel of famed Radio One BBC England.

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Kevin Washington

Kevin Washington

Kevin’s stellar skills have been featured in Modern Drummer Magazine, however his dedication to drumming began as soon as he could hold the sticks. And with teachers of such excellent caliber like Max Roach and Roy Brooks, it was almost impossible for him to go wrong.

In 1996 Washington moved to New York City to study jazz at the New School for Social Research. He performed all over New York with different musical groups such as The Chico Freeman Quartet, Arnie Lawrence, Antonio Hart and James Carter to name a few.  During his stay in New York he was also a Rhythm Instructor at the Harlem School of the Arts.

Since leaving New York, Washington has been traversing the Twin Cities area with his highly sought after drum performance skills. Washington has accompanied various visiting musicians, such as Brian Lynch, Steve Slagle and Dave Stryker, David ‘Fat Head’ Newman, Rodney Jones and James Carter.

He is the lead drummer with The Kevin Washington trio and Moveable Feast; who released their second CD in 2002 and are in the process of recording their third. He can also be found playing with other great musicians such as Cuban pianist Nachito Herrera, the incomparable members of Jazz is NOW! and vocalist Bruce Henry.

In July 2003, Kevin, along with the Doug Little Quartet, embarked upon a month long European tour that covered locations including Germany, France, and Italy. In April 2006, Kevin accompanied Afro-Peruvian guitarist Andres Prado to Lima, Peru and performed at various music venues during a 10-day tour.

Kevin is currently working on his solo CD project that will include many of the top musicians in Minneapolis.

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Toki Wright

Program Coordinator, Hip-Hop Department

Toki Wright is a Twin Cities based emcee, poet, and community organizer. He is the newest artist on Rhymesayers Entertainment.  Wright has been featured on recordings by Atmosphere, C-Rayz Walz. P.O.S., and more.  His performance credits include Scribble Jam, SXSW, Coachella, Bumbershoot, Sons d’Hiver, and Prairie Home Companion. Wright tours throughout the United States and Canada as an opening act and hype man for Brother Ali, and is a member of the groups The C.O.R.E. and The Chosen Few.

As a community organizer, Toki has led the nationally recognized youth organization YO! The Movement (featured in The Source magazine), coordinated seven Twin Cities Celebration of Hip-Hop Festivals, and taught Hip-Hop history and performance to former child soldiers in Gulu, Northern Uganda with the organization H.E.A.L.S.

Toki’s many awards include winner of the Twin Cities Hip-Hop Award in 2007, Artist of the Year (KMOJ Radio) in 2006, in 2003 he was Artist of the Year (Star Tribune), a Minnesota Music Award Nominee for Best Hip-Hop Recording, and landed in the Top 10 Albums of the Year (Star Tribune).  He has appeared as a Coach on MTV Made.  Two of his songs with the group The C.O.R.E. are featured in the film “Justice” which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

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