Hip Hoppa Locka: Muslim Hip Hop Extravaganza in Opa-locka

MDC Live Arts Leads Intensive Residency and Groundbreaking Showcase in Significant Setting

Miami, April 9, 2018 – Miami Dade College’s (MDC) MDC Live Arts activates a thrilling initiative within its Ojala/Inshallah: Wishes from the Muslim World season: an intensive community engagement residency of three female Muslim hip hop artists, culminating in a final performance, Hip Hoppa Locka, at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, at The Arc in Opa-locka.

Conceived by MDC Live Arts, developed in partnership with the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation, curated by guest artistic director Asad Ali Jafri, and generously supported by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of its Knight Arts Challenge, the project examines the intersection of Muslim and hip hop, focusing on female artists in particular—as they are often not at the forefront of these cultures.

This community-engaging project will take place in Opa-locka, home to the largest collection of Moorish Revival architecture in the United States. The residency work hopes to explore issues challenging the under-resourced city, provide tools for expression, and dispel myths about Islam, hip hop, and women in those communities through personal experience.

“The arts are a wonderful lens for exploring our community, our neighbors and our stories. At performances like this, they inspire us to challenge our perceptions, while bringing us together around what we share in common,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation.

The final show will feature performances by b-girls Amirah Sackett and Mary Mar, emcee Aja Black/ The Reminders, DJ sets by Asad Ali Jafri, the unveiling of a new work by muralist Cita Sadeli CHELOVE, and showcases from residency participants from Arts Academy of Excellence, Opa-locka’s arts charter school and more.

WHAT:             Hip Hoppa Locka: Muslim Hip-Hop Night in Opa-locka

WHEN:             Saturday, Apr 21, at 4 p.m.

WHERE:           The ARC
675 Ali Baba Ave. | Opa-locka, FL 33054


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To learn more about the 2017-18 MDC Live Arts Season, call 305-237-3010, or visit mdclivearts.org.

Queens-born emcee/ vocalist Aja Black makes up one half of the group The Reminders; the other, Brussels-born emcee Big Samir. The duo seamlessly blends soulful sounds and roots music with insightful messages and thoughtful lyrics.  Big Samir weaves intricate rhythmic patterns with a bilingual French/English flow, complimented by Aja Black’s confident delivery, diverse cadences, and unique vocal stylings. The couple have an undeniable chemistry as they share more than lyrical abilities and the stage—they are married with children, as often reflected in their themes of marriage, spirituality and family.

Their sound, positivity, and commitment to both uplift and entertain have earned them great acclaim and a dedicated fan base. The duo released their debut album ‘Recollect’ in 2008 and their latest “Born Champions” in 2012. They’ve toured with Lauren Hill and Brother Ali, and have shared the stage with Snoop Dogg, Fishbone, Barrington Levy, Nas, Mos Def, Big Boi, KRS-One, Rakim, K’Naan, among others.

Beyond performances and appearances, the duo is constantly and actively engaged with community organizations, schools, and universities delivering workshops, talks, and specially catered performances. 

Asad Ali Jafri is a cultural producer, global arts leader and interdisciplinary artist with a creative vision for social change. Since 2001, he’s worked with artists, creatives, and thought leaders to curate meaningful productions, design sustainable initiatives, and build strong communities.

The creative mind behind many festivals, concerts, events and productions, Asad served as Director of Arts and Culture for IMAN (Inner-city Muslim Action Network), where he produced Takin’ It to the Streets: Urban International Festival and the Community Café series featuring hundreds of artists and attracting thousands of people.  He later launched Sukoon Creative, a multifaceted arts and culture firm focused on actualizing new ideas and delivering innovative concepts in local and global markets.  Asad works closely with emerging and established artists and arts organizations on opportunities for original work, developmental workshops, artist retreats and residencies, cultural exchanges, network building, and resource sharing.   Some projects include Words Beats and Life’s From Sifrs to Ciphers: Hip Hop is Muslim; New England Foundation for the Arts’ Center Stage; Art Midwest’s CaravanSerai; Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston’s Intersections; and the World Islamic Economic Forum’s MOCAfest. He often directs and tours with a rotating group of performing artists and musicians, including his signature Turntable Dhikr – a spiritual and visual sonic meditation on the Divine.

Asad also plays and blends soulful, spiritual, and funky music from around the globe as DJ Man-O-Wax.

Mary Mar aka B-Girl Ma-Ma’ is part of Hardcore Detroit & Venus Fly dance crews and the dance duo Mama2. Mary started breakdancing in 2001 and has performed, judged, and competed throughout the US and Canada since. She’s won several competitions including 2011 Breakin’ the Law in Madison, Wisconsin; the 2014 Detroit’s Quality All Styles Dance Competition; and 2016 On the Rocks: Top Rock and Footwork Competition. As she continues her journey with Hip Hop and dance, she never loses sight of who she is: a Cambodian Muslimah B-Girl.

Amirah Sacket is an internationally recognized hip-hop dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Named one of “17 Muslim American Women Who Made America Great In 2016” by the Huffington Post, Amirah believes hip-hop culture gives voice to those often unheard and strives to use it as a way to uplift, inspire, and bring change to those communities that need it the most.

In 2011, she formed We’re Muslim, Don’t Panic, a female American Muslim dance trio who were featured in rapper Brother Ali’s video “Mourning in America” and won the Sage Cowles Award for “Best Ensemble Performance.” The group has since reached viral video fame—garnering millions of views over their features in PopSugar, Huffington Post, AJ+, and Upworthy.

Amirah was one of the first female hip-hop artists to receive the Jerome Travel/Study grant, which she used to study and train at the Hip Hop Huis Center in Holland.   She’s toured with Caravanserai- American Voices, a production of American Muslim hip-hop artists and was invited by the U.S. State Department and University of North Carolina to participate in Next Level, a hip-hop cultural exchange program in Bangladesh. Most recently, she completed a residency funded by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art at Hawaii’s Shangri La Museum.

Amirah has been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, a speaker at Tedx and a curator of the B-Girl Be international festival for women in Hip-Hop at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, MN.

She continues to tour, teach, perform in her hometown of Chicago and around the nation.

Cita Sadeli aka CHELOVE, is an independent Muralist and Art Director. Her work is a reflection of a multicultural background rooted in the tropical mysticism of Java, Indonesia and her youth growing up in the raw energy of Washington DC 1980s/1990s streets. It typically urges the viewer to examine the past – a place or culture’s roots and origins, and their relationship to our future.

An active artist in the early 90’s DC graffiti scene, CHELOVE circled back to her roots in 2011 after years of serving as co-founder & director of DC/Brooklyn-based Protein Media: an art, design & interactive company focused on initiatives for education and social good. She created her first publicly funded mural “Every Day I See Something New” through the MuralsDC program, and continued to grow her mural production skills for the next several years while still serving as Co-Director of Protein Media, and later, as  Creative Director at Spreenkler LLC  in Brooklyn.

In 2015, CHELOVE transitioned into full time independent Art Director/designer/muralist, delivering creative solutions for brands, including Trillectro, AFROPUNK, Adobe, Pow!Wow!DC, the Smithsonian’s Freer/Sakler, Asian Pacific American Center, Folklife Festival and FolkWays Recordings, Oracle, Starbucks, Wat-Aah, Deloitte & Touche, IStrategy Labs, and restaurants: &Pizza, Le Puerta Verde and Palette22.
The bulk of her work is now focused on delivering murals. She has designed and installed over 35 projects in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Miami, New York City, Brooklyn, NY, and Karachi Pakistan through the MuralsDC program, government and city funded projects, commercial commissions, and probably her favorite – through grassroots community initiatives. Noted DC murals include the collaborative production “Crossroads”, completed in July 2014 in NE DC, “We Are Takoma” in Takoma DC, “Tell Me A Story” at NoMa Junction/Storey Park, and “Water Protectors” (collaboration with MASPAZ) for POW!WOW!DC along the Metro Branch Trail. …and she still paints with spray cans.

MDC Live Arts
is Miami’s most eclectic performing arts series. Created in 1990 as Cultura del Lobo, MDC Live Arts has a celebrated history of bringing extraordinary national and international performing artists to Miami. The annual series presents today’s most exciting artists and designs meaningful engagement between these artists, the students of MDC, and the greater community. MDC Live Arts seeks artists from across the globe who push boundaries and honor traditions relevant to Miami’s diverse community, and aims to offer audiences opportunities to discover new ideas, perspectives and forms of expression. For more information, please visit www.mdclivearts.org.

Ojalá/Inshallah: Wishes from The Muslim World is made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges Program. The Building Bridges Program is the grant-making arm of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, which is an extension of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The program supports national efforts to advance relationships, increase understanding, and reduce bias between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The mission of DDFIA is to promote the study, understanding and appreciation of Muslim arts and cultures. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org/what-we-fund/building-bridges. 

Hip Hoppa Locka is made possible with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a national foundation with strong local roots. Knight Foundation invests in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Its goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more information, please visit www.knightfoundation.org/ 

The programs of MDC Live Arts are made possible with the generous support of:  Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council; the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; the National Endowment for the Arts; and National Performance Network (NPN). MDC Live Arts is a Partner of the National Performance Network (NPN). Major NPN contributors include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Amal is a National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network (NPN/VAN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by MDC Live Arts in partnership with Su Teatro, MACLA and NPN/VAN.


The Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC) was established in November 1980 as a nonprofit community development corporation in order to address the distressed unemployment conditions, particularly in the Opa-locka and North Dade County, Florida, communities. Its primary mission is to transform under-resourced communities into vibrant, desirable, engaged neighborhoods by improving access to health, education, employment, art, safety and affordable housing. For more information about OLCDC, please visit www.olcdc.org.

MDC Live Arts Contacts: Alexa Burneikis, Marketing Manager, 305-237-7733, aburneik@mdc.edu

Select requests: Lisa Palley, Palley Promotes, 305-642-3132, lpalley@bellsouth.net