Toki Wright Named Assistant Chair of Professional Music
Toki Wright has been named assistant chair of Berklee’s Professional Music Department. Wright is internationally recognized as an MC, producer, writer, radio host, arts diplomat, and community organizer. The Minneapolis native will become the second assistant chair in the department’s history when he takes up the post on July 15.
Wright led the country’s first fully accredited hip-hop studies program at McNally Smith College of Music. The program was awarded Best Transformative Higher Learning Model by the Hip-Hop Education Center at New York University. He regularly tours the world performing and teaching in Africa, Europe, and China. As an organizer, Wright led the youth nonprofit organization Yo! The Movement, facilitating seven Twin Cities Celebration of Hip-Hop festivals and other community actions. He also helped to establish Hip-Hop at H.E.A.L.S., teaching performance to former child soldiers in Gulu, Uganda, and promoting the careers of hip-hop artists in Croatia and Sierra Leone.
"I am honored to have a leadership role at such a prestigious institution. The faculty and students are some of the top creative minds in the world," said Wright. "I look to continue striving for excellence in all aspects of my position. I've had a particular way of combining formal education with experiential learning, technology, goal-oriented projects, wellness, and community networking."
Wright has released albums through his imprint Soul Tools Entertainment and Rhymesayers Entertainment, charting in the top 50 on MTV, iTunes, and more. He has performed at events such as Coachella and Rock the Bells; toured with Evidence of Dilated Peoples, Brother Ali, Atmosphere, and the late Sean Price; and released recordings with Talib Kweli, BJ The Chicago Kid, Caroline Smith, P.O.S., G Yamazawa, and others. Under the moniker Mamadu, Wright has also worked behind the scenes producing music for various artists.
"We are thrilled to have Toki Wright join the Professional Music Department,” said Larry Simpson, senior vice president for academic affairs/provost. “His great work in Minneapolis shows dedication to arts education and artist empowerment that I believe will be a great benefit to the Berklee community."
A two-time Emmy Award-winner, Wright co-curated the two-time CLIO Award-winning and Cannes Lions-nominated Watch the Stove mixtape for Hamburger Helper/General Mills, which was one of the biggest viral marketing campaigns of 2016. Wright also wears several hats in media. He created Soul Tools Radio on KFAI-FM in Minneapolis in 2013 and hosts Wright About Now on American Public Media’s The Current. He hosts several arts and music events, writes for Insight News, and is a judge for NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest.