wealth inequality

Nimsins Raps About East Oakland With Love | KQED


Rather than simply rapping about it, Nimsins has taken action to facilitate improvement.

“The messages we feed kids are contradictory to our growth,” he says. “Being a father and being a teacher made me mindful of what I put out and what I do. I can’t be on no bullshit.”

After being shot by a stray bullet as a two-year-old in 1997—a wound that left him with only one fully functional kidney—Nimsins has directed his life towards arts, civic engagement and uplifting his community. In the past, he has dedicated himself as an after school educator with non-profits like Pueblo and Safe Passages’ Get Active Urban Arts, visiting classrooms and teaching the youth in his neighborhood about knowing their rights, local histories and how to paint murals. A product of Fremont High School himself, he knows the value of his “predecessors” who were able to teach, guide and contribute to his journey. Today, he continues to do that as a rapper, father and graffiti artist.

“We get the kids to rock with art, cultural literacy, hip-hop. Homework and life skills, too,” he says. “There’s lots of Latinos out here so we also explore Aztecs and indigenous cultures, things like that. Just giving back to the community. Each one, teach one.”

Both his actions and his songs are like opening up a journal entry penned by an observant and tender-hearted activist who simply wants to see better for his neighborhood. There’s no flashy gimmicks of fame, no hyperbolic claims of toughness, no dissing his imagined foes. It’s purely meditative contemplation about his living conditions and an unfiltered glimpse of what he hopes to see changed. Yet, despite his warmth, there’s a roughness and urgency that seeps out from having experienced the consequences of poverty and discrimination firsthand. In other words, he’s never half-stepping.

His self-education about figures like the Black Panther Party, Che Guevara, Immortal Technique and The Coup have informed his sense of purpose and possibility as an artist and community advocate. 

In 2019, for instance, Nimsins spent six months calling the City of Oakland, trying to get a dilapidated basketball court fixed in his neighborhood with no success. His tweet about his frustrations went viral, and the Golden State Warriors took notice. They sent a team of workers to renovate Concordia Park—along with Steph Curry


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