Rapper IDK — whose moniker is short for “Ignorantly Delivering Knowledge” — has experienced a major transformation in his music journey of going from being incarcerated to signing with a major record label.
His struggle to find his life’s purpose has led him to being a successful artist/producer. Now, he wants to ensure other rising artists don’t have to go through similar circumstances to follow their dreams.
In an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone, the 28-year-old Maryland rapper announced the launch of No Label Academy — a 10-day music business crash course at Harvard University curated for aspiring industry leaders with no prior experience or exposure.
“The idea started when I realized how my situation had a lot to do with the odds being against me,” IDK told Rolling Stone. “I, being a felon and having minimal education in terms of certifications, was still finding a way to create a career that’s not only lucrative, but in line with what I actually wanted to do in life.”
After three years of being in and out of the criminal justice system, IDK has committed his work to building a better future for himself and others.
I’m happy this is happening and I hope it lets others know we’re more than just rappers and musicians. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/lRnHo5jVP5
— IDK (@IDK) December 2, 2020
According to Rolling Stone, IDK’s team will handpick beginner musicians, managers, publicists, A&Rs, and others in starting industry roles from across the U.S. for the Harvard-based program.
IDK and a number of celebrity guests will then advise participants on a plethora of topics, including financial literacy, contract negotiations, networking, social media strategy, and mental health.
To create No Label Academy, IDK partnered with nonprofit media platform No Label — whose mission is focused on showcasing underrepresented stories. IDK was also invited by the platform’s co-founders — Marcelo HD and Miles Weddle — to speak about criminal justice reform at Harvard earlier this year.
From that speaking engagement, HD and Weddle challenged IDK to build his speaking program on a higher level, to which he responded with an attempt to build a pipeline for felons and a foundation for the BIPOC community.
“The idea of a felon coming out of prison and trying to be successful is almost like… no, it doesn’t make sense, it’s not real, especially in the area that I’m from,” he shared with Rolling Stone. “It’s not like it’s New York or L.A., where the music industry is prominent. There’s a lot of people with the potential to be like me. I want to find those people and educate them on how to properly go about creating that career in music.”
At the conclusion of the crash course, students will be offered internships, mentorships, or jobs, though these details are still being ironed out.
Rolling Stone also reports that IDK has plans to sign a select few No Label Academy artists to Clue — his joint venture with Warner — only if and when they complete the program.
The first round of classes will be a trial for the program, but IDK plans on expanding to all 50 states at a variety of college campuses.
More details on this venture to come.