Hip-hop for the kids

Save the Kids is a national program that aims to guide teens and kids through positive forms of expression such as dance and spoken word.

Destanie Martin-Johnson

Spoken word and hip-hop artists will spit rhymes and beats this Saturday at one of the monthly benefit shows for Save the Kids.
STK is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to spread positivity to misguided youth. One aspect of this is educating kids about staying out of trouble with the law.
“Seventy to 80 percent of kids in juvenile detention centers end up in prison,” said Mark Hall, an STK coordinator.
This upcoming Saturday STK will hold a benefit hip-hop show featuring different artists performing spoken word and rap. It’s a show STK does every month, but there are different performers and structures each time.
During the show, artists will perform, and STK will talk about its cause and the importance of education.
“A lot of the youth are misguided in our society. It’s important that we get a hold of them while they’re still fresh and impressionable,” Hall said.
One of the artists who will be performing is local 
hip-hop artist SMYLADON. He’s been a longtime friend of Hall and STK co-national coordinator Reies Romero.
“It’s clean and faith-based,” Romero said about SMYLADON’s style. Although STK isn’t affiliated with religion, SMYLADON’s music and mission radiate positivity, and some of his lyrics describe his prayers for guidance in a world of negativity. 
“He genuinely cares for the youth and the community,” Romero said.
There will be other performances from DJ Chuck Chizzle of KMOJ radio and Keno Evol, another spoken word poet.
All STK’s events are youth-friendly and occur on the first and last Saturday of most months. Many of the events are held at Augsburg College and at the Minnehaha Free Space. STK is also known for its open-mic nights featuring spoken word artists.
“Open mics are a way to get people in the community to come and have a safe place to … express themselves however they want to,” Hall said.
STK also works directly with kids in juvenile detention centers.
“Poetry Behind The Walls” is a poetry book composed of poems written by kids in the detention centers. Hall said STK visits the detention center to spend time playing games, writing poetry and listening to the kids.
“Most of these children’s ages are at a hard time, and they don’t have counselors in schools to listen to them,” Hall said. “The kids are just criminalized. They need to be listened to and taught, and our society doesn’t do a good job of teaching.”
There are several different chapters of STK throughout Minnesota and the rest of the country. Most of the group’s employees are working on a voluntary basis.
Romero said he plans to continue working for the organization because of the impact he feels the group makes. 
“We all believe in the same things: ending white supremacy, police brutality and youth incarceration,” Romero said. “My experience [with STK] has been very gratifying and very fulfilling.”