Kota the Friend certainly helped make a greater good during his time in Chicago. While casual fans may focus on another sold-out Flight Night performance at the historic Metro Chicago, the Brooklyn rapper had plenty more gifts in store for his most recent host city.
On Thursday, April 29th, Kota spoke at West40 Regional Safe School, making formative connections with 60 local youths. Organized by Chicago nonprofit A Greater Good Foundation (AGGF), Kota’s visit fit into the foundation’s Blueprint Mentorship Program, which functions to teach essential life management skills to a diverse set of learners. Comprised of several student-interest focused curricula, one specific program organically tied in with Kota’s visit. The More than a Verse curriculum.
“When someone tells you something negative about yourself, the easy thing to do is believe it, and accept their malice as part of your identity. It takes true courage to overcome that, and to believe instead in the best qualities you see in yourself.”
More than a Verse incorporates the music and lyrics of artists such as Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, Russ, SoloSam and Common. The program uses these musicians art to impart vital life lessons. Students are exposed to the concept that the vibrations, frequencies, and language utilized by their favorite artists have the power to impact their lives, both positively and negatively.
Each course begins with a group listening, where learners participate in a “meaning making” session. Sharing around a circle, students offer reactions, and lessons that they derive through their singular experience with each song. As learners become more confident with this vulnerable exercise, and draw on course lessons, their identity as listeners shifts. Paired with knowledge of the conscious and subconscious mind, meditation, life skills, and self-awareness, limiting beliefs and ideologies can be altered through the power of music.
Fittingly, More than a Verse students had previously spent time studying Kota the Friend songs Dear Fear and For Troubled Boys. With Kota’s simplistic take on complex matters, and willingness to speak from a place of vulnerability and introspection, this connection makes sense. From studying an impactful artist through his work, to sharing an intimate space with him was an awe-inspiring moment for students.
“To host an artist of Kota the Friend’s caliber at West40, especially the day before a sold-out show meant the world to our students!” shared AGGF Chief of Heart Cody Cotton. “They learned the importance of a morning routine, of meditation and the connection of these practices to mental and holistic health.”
Kota the Friend is an advocate for self-care, mental health awareness and self-love, both through action and lyricism. Some would describe his verses as self-help songwriting. So, to expose students to these ideas through lyrics, and in-person was an exceptionally powerful experience. However, Kota made sure to share that external trials will always arise in pursuit of self-love.
“Most importantly, students learned that the modern world can be full of negative energy” expounded Cotton. “When someone tells you something negative about yourself, the easy thing to do is believe it, and accept their malice as part of your identity. It takes true courage to overcome that, and to believe instead in the best qualities you see in yourself. Our students left today equipped with that truth. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Kota the Friend and West40 for making this happen. It wouldn’t be possible without them,” concluded Cotton.
While Kota’s shine, and motivational words surely had great impact on the youth of Chicago, the good people at A Greater Good Foundation are boots-on-the-ground 365 days a year to accomplish that mission. Through lessons of self-awareness, community service, and education AGGF programs will continue to position students to reach their goals and fulfill their highest potential.
Please consider supporting AGGF on its mission of creating lasting memories for today’s youth. Interested parties should consider sponsoring a child. While large sponsorships are more than welcomed and greatly appreciated, consistent support truly makes a difference. Doing so will help provide food, unique experiences, transportation, mentor stipends, merchandise, books/supplies, and technology for the year.
Each student has a sponsorship cost of $300/year. Sponsors are recommended to support for a full year.
You can contact AGGF directly for information on sponsoring a full program: