Chicago hip-hop artist ‘The Honorable Hakim Dough’ is a teacher at heart

By Ryan Rosenberger, Staff Reporter

Steven Nunez
Hakim Dough is running a “Teens, Hoodies & Studio Time” campaign in an effort to give young aspiring Chicago artists free studio time in a professional setting.

No matter what Columbia alumnus and Chicago hip-hop artist The Honorable Hakim Dough is pursuing in life, there always seems to be one common thread: educating others.

On the mic, Dough is a hyper-conscious songwriter whose vivid lyrical pictures teach hard lessons about the realities minority communities face.

Now, Dough is putting his educational spirit into action with the “Teens, Hoodies & Studio Time” campaign to give aspiring Chicago artists free studio time in a professional environment. Dough said the main objective of the campaign is to pay it forward, even with the finite amount of resources at his disposal.

“I don’t have the most sponsorships or endorsements,” Dough said. “But what I do have, I like to give back.”

For every two of Dough’s “Thankful, for the Chi” hoodies sold, the proceeds will cover one hour of studio time for an emerging artist.

According to Dough’s website, contestants have to be between 14 and 24 years of age. They also have to submit a 250-word summary on why they are thankful for Chicago, as well as an additional 250 words on why they are the ideal recipient for the studio time, along with a demo of their own music.

Aside from free studio time, winners will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with industry professionals by taking part in workshops in areas such as songwriting, creative strategy and community building, to name a few. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, March 31.

Dough said giving back to youth was an easy decision because they usually don’t have the resources to jump-start their careers.

“They were a no-brainer for who I’d like to give back to,” Dough said.

The campaign was inspired by Dough’s 2018 album, “Thankful, for the Chi.” Over a series of jazz and gospel-inspired instrumentals, Dough pays homage to Chicago through a series of dizzying lyrical exercises and the sociopolitical content in his songs.

In his song “Wanna Rap?,” Dough sings: “Too many dandelions dyin’ due to environment and guns/The antithesis of photosynthesis is mamas losin’ sons.”

Dough said “Thankful, for the Chi” was a snapshot of his experiences from 2015 to 2018, the period of time in which the album was conceived. Some of those experiences include living in the Bronzeville neighborhood and dating a woman who attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dough said.

“The people I’ve been able to connect with [and] the people who have taken me under their wing … they’ve essentially given me access or entrusted in me responsibilities to do and be what I say I am,” Dough said.

Dough’s passion for educating others was one of the catalysts for coming to Chicago in the first place. He moved to the city in 2015 to attend graduate school at Columbia where he studied arts management. Dough earned his Master of Arts Management degree in 2017.

“I’ve always been someone who enjoyed teaching,” Dough said. “A big part [of why] I went to graduate school is because, at some point, I knew I wanted to come back and be a professor.”

Dough earned his Master of Arts Management degree in 2017. During his time at Columbia, his professors saw how serious he was about education and community service. Beth Ryan, an associate professor of instruction in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department, said mentorship is something that comes naturally to Dough.

“He’s the mentor that appears naturally and organically in young peoples’ lives,” Ryan said. “Not just because he’s in a position at one single organization. Wherever he is, he pulls a community of young people together.”

After graduation, Dough continued his work with mentoring young artists by joining the non-profit organization Art of Culture Inc., where he currently serves as the assistant executive director. The organization, which changed its name from “Donda’s House,” in 2018, according to the Chicago Tribune, is named after rapper Kanye West’s mother.

Art of Culture Inc. focuses on honing the skills of young artists through showcases and workshops.

“We provide creative and professional development for young artists,” Dough said. “[That includes] writing program workshops [and] access to the industry in a way that normal people wouldn’t have.”

Gregory Sashington, an artist and store manager at the Traphouse Chicago clothing store, said the way Dough gives back to others reflects the maturity of someone who is wise beyond their years.

“He embodies wisdom,” said Sashington, who works closely with Art of Culture Inc. “He has a servant’s heart.”

For the time being, Dough continues to prioritize teaching and lending a hand to Chicago’s youth. He wants to show them they don’t have to leave home to get to where they want to be.

“There are a great deal of artists … who reach a certain level of success and feel as though they have to go to New York or LA,” Dough said. “It’s important … that we support artists [in Chicago].”