Toki Wright

THEHIPHOPDIVA.COM corresponded with McNally Smith College of Music’s Hip Hop Program Coordinator, Toki Wright, who also happens to be a notable emcee.  We discussed their Hip Hop Diploma program  and the “B-Girl Be Hip Hop Diploma Scholarship” they are offering.  Here’s what was said.

HHD: What led McNally Smith College of Music to create the Hip Hop Diploma program?

TW: Supporters of the Hip Hop culture and education have now overlapped.  Hip Hop has a place in academics.  Mcnally Smith being a music school has come across many students who want to have a focus in the culture.  Not only is it a multibillion dollar industry it also encompasses language, history, and technology. 

HHD: Being that this is the first program of its kind to be offered in the U.S., how did the school develop the program?  What is it using as its framework?

TW: The Hip Hop Diploma program is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.  There is a long process that includes developing curriculum and having it approved.  Students take 3 semesters of classes in music business, language, performance, and more.

HHD: Upon completion of the Hip Hop Diploma program what tools and skillset will a graduate have under their belt and how will this prepare them for embarking upon a successful career in hip hop?

TW: Students will have hands on experience with practitioners in the music industry, internship opportunities, organizational skills, experience recording, mixing, mastering, beatmaking, Djing, and much more in a group setting. 

HHD: Outside of the eligiility requirements, what qualities are you looking for in students of the Hip Hop Diploma program?

TW: We are looking for students who are ambitious, open minded, and ready to focus.  Often times students enter programs expecting to just learn what they think needs to be known about the subject.  Hip Hop involves a lot of key players and elements that often go overlooked by most people.  For instance, we show students that in order for a rapper to be successful there are dozens of others behind the scenes that make it possible.  Your place may be on the stage or behind the scenes.

HHD: McNally is doing its part in strengthening the role of women in hip hop by offering the “B-Girl Be Hip Hop Diploma Scholarship”.  Why is this scholarship needed and what are you hoping its impact will be?

TW: Young women are very important to the advancement of Hip Hop.  Women provide another view that is often overlooked and disrespected.  It is vital to the future of Hip Hop to help develop a strong female presence.  B-Girl Be has done a great job of carrying forth that idea.

HHD: How can an applicant for this scholarship stand out from the rest?

TW: Applicants stand out by including well thought out answers.  Including examples of your work also helps us to understand your interests.

HHD: Why do you think women are not as equally successful as their male counterparts in hip hop?

TW: Simply put we can say sexism.  That can go into a longer conversation that goes outside of Hip Hop and far back in time.

HHD: What do you think must be done to bring females back to the forefront of hip hop where they belong?

TW: Strong representations need access to the same outlets as their male counterparts.  Women also need to have mentorship from other Women who have experience to give insight. 

HHD: In addition to your work as Program Coordinator for McNally’s Hip Hop program you are also an emcee as well as a community activist.  What projects are you working on in those ares that us DIVAS should lookout for to support or become involved in?

TW: Right now my main focus has been to make sure this program running smoothly.  In addition to that I am touring regularly.  My work has mostly centered around numerous opportunities for young people to play significant roles in their communities through programming and activities.

Check out the McNally Smith College of Music at

Check Toki Wright out at


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