Chicago hip-hop stars team up to teach kids how to write music

July 26, 2013

Lee Jian Chung

(Wikimedia Commons/Mike Barry)
Rhymefest performs in Manchester, England. He is teaching songwriting to kids in Chicago as part of the “Got Bars” program.

Kanye West and Rhymefest are collaborating on a free music writing program to assist at-risk youth on Chicago’s South Side.

The “Got Bars?” program will teach young people how to write and record their own music over the course of 10 weeks. It’s a collaboration between West’s non-profit, Donda’s House — named in honor of his late mother — and St. Sabina Church.

Donda’s House Executive Director Donnie Smith said music writing helps the students, who will be between 15 to 24 years old, develop problem-solving skills.

“Art instruction and particularly music instruction leads people to become better problem solvers, more flexible,” Smith said. “There are just so many outcomes that come from the study of music and particularly music writing.”

She said the program’s targeting at-risk youth between 15 and 24 because there aren’t enough activities for them.

Rhymefest, who’s co-founder and assistant director of Donda’s House, will help kids write and record music in a studio. The program also includes lessons about exercise, nutrition and life skills.

Donda’s House will release an EP that includes the participants’ songs.

Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him @jclee89.