Rashad D. Hawkins is an independent hip-hop artist, producer and community activist from Baltimore, Maryland. The veteran emcee and composer has been promoting hip-hop and positivity in his hometown for more than a decade. Whether running campaigns to free incarcerated youth, or co-organizing the first ever Mayoral Forum on Arts and Culture in Baltimore, the musician has paired art and activism to bring real change to his community.
The prolific creator has worked with dozens of artists of all genres over the last 15 years, earning him a reputation as one of Baltimore’s most versatile producers. In 2022 Rashad D. Hawkins launched his Urban Classical album series. It’s a conceptual project in which the experimental composer is pairing original classical pieces with hip-hop, trap and pop beats.
Urban Classical 1.5 is the second installment in Rashad D. Hawkins’ Urban Classical series, available worldwide via all major streaming services. The 5-song set stays true to the project’s premise while exploring all new creative avenues presented by the mash-up of hip-hop & classical. The lush electronic orchestral strings of “A Beautiful Denial” open the set before the beat drops an old-school 808 bounce and avant-garde jazz melodies on “Fredda Thymos.”
“Seasonal Bargaining” continues the jazz theme with a quirky and plucky Thelonious Monk-style solo piano. “Our Depressiya ” combines all of the record’s many different genres into a rousing cinematic score. And then the credits roll over the Vangelis-inspired percussive synthwave instrumental anthem, “Golden Annahme ”.
Check out Urban Classical 1.5 in its entirety below, or listen on your favorite streaming service. You can also hear the track “Seasonal Bargaining” on the Deep Indie Jazz playlist. We had the chance to chat with Rashad D. Hawkins about the record. Read his answers to our 7 questions. Follow the links at the end of this article to connect with the artist.
7 Questions with Rashad D. Hawkins
Where are you from?
How long have you been making music?
I’ve been making music for about 15 years.
Who are the musicians involved in your project?
I completely composed and produced the “Urban Classical” series myself.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
My roots are in hip hop, and I am heavily influenced by the greats, but I’ve also drawn influence from several artists and several genres. I think that Marina and Kanye were some of my biggest influences as an overall artist. Those two really pioneered being eclectic as a style of music instead of being restricted to a specific genre as an artist.
What is your greatest non-musical influence?
My greatest non-musical influence is probably professional wrestling. I think the WWE has influenced a lot of artists over the years.
What inspired you to create this project?
I’ve always made this style of music, so I decided to create a series that would display it.
What are your plans for the future (musically)?
I want to be a successful artist, continue to grow as an artist, and release new innovative projects with feeling and meaning. I am currently working on my first official studio album.