Masta Ace and Powermalu Emphasize the Power of Choices on Dr. Martin Luther King Day


Othman Muhammad

Hip-Hop icon Masta Ace taking a selfie with a fan.

Obed Narcisse, Managing Editor

Hip-Hop artist Masta Ace and improv artist and rapper Powermalu seemed to galvanize students into considering each decision they make as they both performed “Young Black Intelligent” on January 13  to celebrate the legacy of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.

Each year, students and faculty congregate to commemorate and reminisce on the impact of Dr. King’s determination to achieve social justice through nonviolence and love.

Through Ken Cervantes’ 91, both Masta Ace and Powermalu were invited to the annual celebration. Mr. Cervantes saw Masta Ace’s recent video “YBI,” triggering a nostalgic moment.

“It brought me back to here, brought me back to the Shanley Gym,” Ken Cervantes said “I wanted to give something to the students.”

Acting as a liaison, Mr. Cervantes introduced senior Jamal Kareem to Masta Ace and after several exchanged emails and a sit-down, Masta Ace agreed to come to the Hive.

According to Dean of Freshmen Glenn Cassidy, the program did not “focus exclusively on MLK,” rather it emphasized “the concepts and legacies that he left behind.”

“The theme of the day was about choices,” Mr. Cassidy said.

“I hope that students think about the choices they make and they recognize the impact that choices have on their future.”

The program started by separating the sections of the school: Maroon and Blue section remained in the Conlin Auditorium with Masta Ace while Gray and White section went to the Shanley Gymnasium to watch one of Powermalu’s skits that chronicles the life of Poet Lemon Andersen.

Ultimately, Masta Ace also emphasized the impact that choices can harbor.

“The high school age is the falling season — the time in your life where one decision or another can change the direction of your life,” Masta Ace said. he said. “Some are gonna fall and some are going to stand tall, which one are you going to be? This is your falling season right now,” he said.

Improv artist and rapper Powermalu delivering his skit about Lemon Andersen.

Similarly, Powermalu enticed the student body with his skit about Lemon Andersen. After his performance, he also stressed the importance of the decisions we make.

“All of you have a story to tell. Your voice is important. Embrace that and do not be afraid to share it,” Powermalu said.

The day culminated with a group from each of the four sections performing a rap on the theme of nonviolence, Dr. King, or making positive choices over negative choices.

The winner of the contest was Fr. Dunstan Smith of White Section. UDI Jesus Paulino led the group in their performance, which also featured music director Jeremy Fletcher Ph.D. and Science Department Chair M.D., Dennis Lansing.

“I am very passionate about issues on social injustice and race, and to be able convey that to a group of people was just incredible,” Jesus said. “I’m not used to performing in front of people, but it was completely worth it.”

After the students performed, Masta Ace and Powermalu performed “YBI (Young Black Intelligent)” which was featured on his “The Falling Season” album.

Then, alumnus Ken Cervantes ‘91 reminded students of the inevitability of making choices and decisions.

“As a whole group, the decisions we make at SBP will impact out there,” Mr. Cervantes ‘91 said.

Moreover, he believes “YBI” applies directly to each student.

“The reason why YBI makes sense to me was because it’s not Young Black and Intelligent, it’s because it is Young Benedict’s and Intelligent.”

As students and faculty reflect upon Dr. King and his ideals of nonviolence and love, Mr. Cassidy challenges students to apply his message to the school dynamic, which is often lauded for its spirit of brotherhood.

“It’s really important that we remind ourselves daily of our responsibility to one another,” Mr. Cassidy said.

Furthermore, Mr. Cassidy emphasizes the love that students should have for each other.

“Even when I am in a selfish mood, even when other people are annoying me, it’s important to remember that those other people around that are annoying me right now or that I may not care about have a story and because of that story, they may need me,” he said.

“The only way we move forward is by recognizing our responsibility to one another.”