RZA and Adisa Banjoko visit the St. Louis Chess Club after speaking to incarcerated youth and visiting the World Chess Hall of Fame. Adisa Banjokoserved as Education Consultant and lead researcher for the Living Like Kings Exhibit (open now till April 26th 2015).Read More
For Immediate Release
PR Contact: Meek Gaborski
RZA of Wu-Tang Clan Successfully Defends Hip-Hop Chess King Title
Suggests A Fusion Math & Music Can Help Educators Reach Youth
Hip-Hop Chess Federation Declares RZA Winner of HHCF Chess Kings Invitational
Los Angeles, CA 2/26/14- The Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF) is proud to announce that RZA retained his title at the Chess Kings Invitational , a celebrity chess tournament, Sunday Feb 16th 2014. The event was part of a high level submission only jiu jitsu tournament called KO Finisher. The 8 man tournament included Actor Emilio Rivera of Sons of Anarchy, MMA Fighter Ralek Gracie, Rakaa Iriscience from Dilated Peoples, Hip-Hop producer Shafiq Husayn, LA Chessboxing Champion Andrew McGregor, Rugged Monk of Black Knights and Adisa Banjoko.
Hip-Hop Chess Federation Founder, Adisa “The Bishop” Banjoko stated “The HHCF would like to congratulate RZA on winning the 2014 Chess Kings Invitational. RZA defended his title with the focus of a Shaolin Monk. Additionally, our Mind Over Matter panel proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that educators, artists, chess and martial arts can benefit at-risk teens and kids through sharing new ideas. “ RZA and the HHCF raised 5k to benefit an after school chess program at Santee High School in South Central Los Angeles. The program is expected to launch in the next few weeks.
The Mind Over Matter panel featured RZA, actor Emilio Rivera from Sons of Anarchy, Dr. Martin Gomez Principal of Santee High, Dr. Sergio Flores Director of Partnership for LA Schools, Rakaa Iriscience of Dilated Peoples, and LA Chessboxing Champion Andrew McGregor. The panelists discussed how Hip-Hop, chess and martial arts can lead American youth to unity, strategy and nonviolence. FULL AUDIO OF RZA’s talk on the Mind Over Matter Panel can be heard in its entirety at The Journey Podcast .
RZA, who also serves as the Director of Outreach for HHCF stated “It was an honor to do battle and emerge victorious at the Chess Kings Invitational in LA. It was great to share ideas on blending music and math to reach the youth. I believe the conversations on our panel can open some peoples eyes.We hope to share the educational power of fusing Hip-Hop, chess and martial arts with even more people next year. “
In related news, the HHCF recently released Street Games Vol. 1 hosted by DJ Rob Flow and A-Plus of Hieroglyphics. Street Games Vol. 1 is a profanity free mixtape about the connections between Hip-Hop Chess and martial arts. It includes A Technical Flow by Kalhi feat. UFC coach Ryron Gracie, 64 Squares in the Cipher by Sunspot Jonz, Zumbi and Rakaa Iriscience, The Chess Clock by Quadir Lateef and Jasiri X, and The Maurice Piece, a tribute to the first Black Grandmaster of chess, Maurice Ashley.
For more information on HHCF visit www.facebook.com/hiphopchess or follow on Instagram @realhiphopchess.
SPECIAL THANKS to our sponsors: www.ctrlindustries.com, www.studioannecarltonchess.com, www.uschess.org, www.openmatradio.com,www.thechessdrum.net, www.chess.com, www.lachessclub.com, www.dstryrsg.com Jupiter Jiu Jitsu and www.timbuk2.com !
About Hip-Hop Chess Federation: The Hip-Hop Chess Federation is the first nonprofit 501(c)3 to fuse music, chess and martial arts to promote unity, strategy and nonviolence. They host celebrity chess events and panels of life strategies for at-risk, gang impacted and gang intentional youth. Artists like RZA and GZA from Wu-Tang Clan, The Jacka, Immortal Technique, Asheru, Zion I, DJ Qbert, Dilated Peoples, Hieroglyphics and many others have participated in their events. Founder Adisa Banjoko has presented at Harvard University and World Chess Hall of Fame on how chess, martial arts and music promote peace in the streets in 2013. Visit their official website at www.hiphopchessfederation.org .
There are certain times in your life, where you feel it coming together. Right now is one of those moments. Shortly before I started Hip-Hop Chess Federation I interviewed Grandmaster Maurice Ashley for my second book Lyrical Swords Vol. 2: Westside Rebellion. The book also included interviews with RZA, GZA, Afrika Bambaataa and many others.
I met him face to face through Jen Shahade in NY at a HHCF/9Queens event with the RZA. He was very supportive of the momentum we had. I told him then that there was no purpose in me doing what I did if he, Jen, Josh Waitzkin and others did not exist. I explained that HHCF for most serious chess players and fans is misunderstood. That I point people in their direction, knowing that you (meaning Maurice, Jen, Josh, and other GM's, WGM's etc.) do all the true heavy lifting.
Over the years he and I would talk, or email, but we could never seem to catch up.
Thankfully, Jen Shahade introduced me to Susan Barrett from the World Chess Hall of Fame and she invited Hip-Hop Chess Federation out to do several panel discussions on the history of where Hip-Hop, chess and martial arts interlock and how we can use it to inspire children toward self-mastery and self-discovery.
The events they set up were nothing short of amazing. We went to the famous ICA school ran by Judge Jimmie Edwards. We hosted a panel at the St. Louis Library, the Confluence Academy (also one of the best schools I have ever been to!) and a juvenile hall detention center. To stand on Marilyn St. in Saint Louis between the World Chess Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Chess Club is like standing between Meeca and Jerusalem. The energy is electric.
Among the other amazing things that happened though, is, Maurice Ashley interviewed me during the championships. It was a shock and I was truly nervous beyond words during the interview. But later the next night, I got to interview him. It was amazing!!! He talked about his early years as a young chess player, his time playing with Jay-Z and an amazing chess hustler set up match he had with jazz legend Wynton Marsalis. This stuff is simply beautiful. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as much as we loved making it. St. Louis is a beautiful city and my experiences there made me a changed man. I understand chess culture better than I ever have.
I want to thank a few people before I go and understand that the list is simply too long to really get everybody. But here it goes: Jen Shahade (you pulled the trigger on this, thank you so much!) Susan, Laura, Shannon, Amanda (great driving!), St. Louis Police Department (the two nicest cops I ever met after a fender bender was in St. Louie!), everybody at KMOX (Hi, Charlie and Debbie!), Matt Barrett, Mike, and everybody at the St. Louis Chess Club for their kindness to the HHCF squad and my family. You all opened by eyes to a new level of chess culture and duty to serve the community. Thank you for making me a better citizen of the world.
To my HHCF squad (The Furious Five): Mike Relm, Dr. James Peterson, Alan "Gumby" Marques, Asheru and Dr. Daaim Shabazz. You guys take the science and art of Hip-Hop, chess, martial arts and education to the next level. I could not imagine having a better experience in St. Louis than I had with you. Thank you for trusting my vision and bringing your best selves to the Live The Game event. A special shout out to Meek Gaborski (the titanium backbone of this organization) David Frazee Esq., Arash Daneshzadeh (HHCF's Education Director), LyRyan Russell, Elaine Moskowitze, Kay Hones, Pablo Fuentes, T-KASH, Dlabrie, Shamako and Rahman, Josh Waitzkin, Joe Schloss, Dawn-Elissa Fischer, Davey D, RZA, Rakaa Iriscience, Ralek, Ryron and Rener Gracie, Denny Prokopos, Eddie Bravo and a lot of the real Hip-Hop, chess and jiu jitsu folks that really put it down for us back when nobody believed in the fusion of Hip-Hop, chess and martial arts.
To Judge Jimmie Edwards at ICA, the St. Louis Library, to everybody at Confluence Academy and St. Louis Juvenile Detention Center I want to thank you for your open minds, for giving us a chance to speak to your youth and trusting that our vision could help. Any time you need us, please reach out. You all do amazing work and everybody at HHCF was left inspired beyond measure.
FOOD SHOUTS: Lesters, Bar Italia, Drunken Fish and PAPPYS (thanks for the extra bottle of sauce, but TSA gaffled it).
PHOTO CREDITS: Shots of ICA credit Daaim Shabazz. Photos of Maurice Ashley and Adisa Banjoko credit Mike Relm.