Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
Khafre Jay found his power through hip hop.
In Part 1, the founder and executive director of Hip Hop for Change shares his life story. His parents met in the Bayview when they were kids. They got together around age 11 or so and have been with each other since. Khafre tries to imagine what his parents went through as a young Black couple struggling to survive and raise a family in San Francisco.
Owing to his dad's being a singer and actor, Khafre got started singing in choir at a young age. In his teen years, he was influenced by hip hop artists who were getting bigger and bigger, including some local stars like E-40. He says he saw those artists taking their own power from a broken system.
After getting into trouble while at a public high school, Khafre moved to School of the Arts, then located on the campus at SF State. He met other artists and started to get inspired. He also taught the children of ESL students around this time.
Then, at an Iraq War protest in 2003, along with several other folks, Khafre got beat up by police. This incident sparked the activist in him, something that continues to this day.
In Part 2, Khafre talks about his life after the 2003 protests. He was rapping with Richie Cunning and later with a group called B-Pos. He was also putting on shows and touring the country.
Khafre talks about the systemic racism coupled with capitalism that he experienced negatively when trying to do hip hop shows. It manifested in places like higher insurance rates based solely on the genre of music.
He went to City College for a handful of years and then to Mendocino Junior College and studied psychology. He also worked at some group homes up north teaching kids how to make hip hop.
After spending a few years there, Khafre returned to The City and got a job at Greenpeace, which put him on the streets of San Francisco raising money for the organization. He became the director of grassroots fundraising there. After a few years of that, in 2013, he married his love of education, hip hop, and his new experiences of canvassing and fundraising, and launched Hip Hop for Change.
The spot on KPOO started with Khafre going on a program there to advertise a show he was putting on. Hip Hop for Change on the radio evolved from there.
The non-profit exists to take back control over the genre from corporations. Its grassroots fundraising and work in the community to counter white supremacy has been going for more than eight years. Please visit their website and consider a donation.
Khafre ends the podcast with thoughts about surviving and coming out of the pandemic and a plea to support smaller, less well-known POC groups who need money.
We recorded this podcast at the Hip Hop for Change offices in Oakland in June 2021.