Artists find community and connections at Harold Washington College
By Sabrina French
Malik Thomas raps under the name “Chi-Owl” when he’s not studying at Harold Washington.
Soon after Thomas started school here, he met a producer, Jay Minor, with whom he’s already produced three tracks.
At Harold Washington, “you can actually talk to people. It’s not like that at other colleges,” Thomas said. He gives credit to the openness and size of Harold Washington for what has helped his rap career.
Harold Washington as a community college allows self-determined artists to work outside labels and gives them the opportunity to pursue their education at an affordable price.
Having an educated background while in pursuit of a music career is a growing idea. These artists believe that combining the independence of recording themselves with the responsibility of earning a degree can have a positive influence on their careers.
Thomas often can be found spending his time in the downstairs Student Union with many other students and friends. Thomas is attending Harold Washington in pursuit of an education while he focuses on his music career. He studied at the Daley campus, before he came here.
Malik has a branding contract with Classic Studios after producer, found him on Instagram and decided to sign him.
Thomas shares his music on SoundCloud. His most popular, “Luna”, is also available on Spotify and Apple Music. Those contracts were signed with producer Jay Minor.
Artist and student Imari Hudson thinks of Harold Washington as a “stepping stone” on his way to his future as an artist.
“It’s always good to have a degree to fall back on definitely. It gives you a bigger network and job security as well,” Imari said.
Imari is a recording artist who works under the name “Maridenim.” He attended Valparaiso but left there to continue his education at Harold Washington.
He plans to gain business experience and to be capable of marketing himself independently. Imari plans on getting a business degree in his back pocket while simultaneously using it to further his music career.
“We do business on a business level so there’s definitely things like money and funds involved,” he said.
Martin Bekoe is another aspiring artist at HWC. He works on SoundCloud as well under “Noside.”
He feels the same about the atmosphere at Harold.
Bekoe is studying political science and wants to be an entertainment lawyer.
“So I can open up independent studios and then an independent label right away, uninterrupted,” Martin said.
All of these student artists attend HWC because of its affordability.
Bekoe has a couple scholarships that cover most of his tuition. He said this helps him focus on his art and music.
During a time when money is such a struggle for students, a cheap education can make all the difference, especially for aspiring artists.