Posted by StreetWise in Latest News
The need for an artist to maintain a “bad” image is a common misconception in the music industry today, particularly in Hip Hop. Programs on the air wives like VH1’s “docu-soap opera” Love and Hip Hop show only one side of the industry. Very few people get to see the mechanics of the music industry, the business side and what goes into artistic development.
In 2006 a seed was sown into the life of Drew Lee Hines, founder of the Pradagi Foundation NFP. Celebrity disc jockey Tom Joyner recognized him for being a “Real Father, Real Man,” and awarded him $1000. Hines, an ex-veteran and single father of three, established Pradagi Foundation weeks later with his award money.
“I felt I owed Mr. Joyner, my mother and myself to fulfill my dream,” Hines said. Pradagi Foundation is based on the principle that every child is a prodigy, and the right cultivation can bring the talent that lies within to the surface. The Pradagi Foundation helps to shape the lives of misdirected youth into productive, successful members of the community using music as a catalyst.
Pradagi is designed to address various occupations essential to the success of mainstream commercial music, fashion and art, according to its web site. Its business of music program addresses five key components required for successful distribution in the music, fashion and art industries: marketing, public relations, promotions, sales, and logistics.
“Pradagi was created because of the ignorance in Urban Music especially Hip-hop,” Hines said. “P.U.R.E. Underground and Pradagi- Foundation are philanthropic strategic vehicles to help youth and young adults understand the business behind the entertainment industries. Growth, accountability and social responsibility to each other, I believe, are the bedrocks to any thriving and vibrant community. I also am a staunch advocate of entrepreneurship and ownership of your craft. I also implement the Kinesthetic-Collaborative methodology to bring a real world experience to learning, which is an in-your-face, hands-on approach to education. I also believe that we can learn more effectively through working together in a group setting. We as people have become so individualistic that we forget that to takes many to affect change. Whether we are talking about public policy issues, stopping the violence or education (lack there of ), we have to work together as a concise and precise organism to accomplish any goal.”
He continued, “I wanted to start the relationship and get the children, youth, and young adults to understand the correlation and the relationship between art and business. If children understand the business side of what they’re doing, while cultivating their creative side, the two will correlate to produce success.”
Growing up in a single parent household where his mom struggled to put him through college, Hines understands the importance of a father’s presence in a child’s life. He attributes much that he has learned about being a man, to men from the neighborhood, and his church.
“I know what an influence an father/ man, can have on your life, I just don’t have my own experience with my own father; that is why I am so committed, and passionate about my involvement in and around my children’s lives.”
After his first year in college, much to his family’s dismay, Hines decided to enlist in the military, because of the financial strain tuition put on his mother. Yet his time in the military is when he learned the most about himself, he says.
“The military refined my already instilled discipline that my mother, Granddad (Frank McKee) and Uncle (Winzel Hines) put in me from birth. The military also taught me the value of teamwork.”
Drew was able to complete college while in the military. Then he obtained a job with the Fulton County Sheriff ’s Department in Atlanta while his family resided in Chicago. He traveled back and forth between Georgia and Chicago every other weekend for two years until he was able to land a job with the Cook County Sheriff ’s Department that allowed him to live in the same state as his family.
“I want people to know that there are still positive black men making a difference in our communities,” he said. “I also want them to know that Pradagi believes in diversity, versatility, and ownership of your art. We have facilitated a network of partnerships with artists, producers and friends of the entertainment world, who actively mentor students in their industries through classes and workshops held with CPS schools.”
The Pradagi internship/mentorship program provides workshops on marketing and distribution, lawyers and lyrics, royalties and technology, culture and audience impact. It allows 11th graders to spend an entire day with various people who impact the Chicago music scene, from record company owners to radio station executives.
In addition to Hines, the Pradagi staff includes Vince Singleton, John Jointer and Diandra Lyle. Hines has also looked to prominent figures in the music industry such as legendary rocker, Martin Atkins (Nine Inch Nails, Public Image Ltd. NIN, Sex Pistols), engineer/remixer/producer Larry Sturm and wordsmith Geoffrey (Dr. Groove) Watts.
“Each and every person that assists me has been vital to this organization,” Hines said. “This is a living organism. This cannot be contained in four walls. I want youth and youth adults to understand that each person you meet and associate yourself with can make OR break you.”
Winner of the Bank of America Local Hero Award in 2008 for using his poetry to inspire youth in schools, prisons, and group homes, Watts donated his $5,000 prize money to Pradagi.
“Lee Hines had a clear vision for teaching youth the business of music,” Watts said in justifying his donation. “So many young people skip the business side and get burnt later on because they were just great entertainers. That is the edge that he [Hines] provides young people.”
Hines says he receives inspiration from his fiancee and children and he attributes the man he is today to his children. He also considers himself more of an “old school” parent with old school values.
“You mess it up, you clean it up, You open it, you close it. You turn it on, you turn it OFF,” he said.
Hines credits his fiancée with keeping him grounded. “She brings a softer side to me to deal with my children. She allows me to see a side that oftentimes I can’t see from my children’s perspective.”
Hines is not only inspired by others, he also serves as an inspiration. His mentoring exposes the youth to the ends and outs of the industry. As a result, students make connections that they maintain. Four Pradagi students have decided to pursue careers in the music industry: two of them are studying music production/ engineering at Southern Illinois University and two more have decided to do so upon graduation.
Hines hopes in the future to return for a second season to CAN TV Channel 21 for his show, Keeping Success Pure.
“I want to set an example for my kids to follow,” he said. “I wanted to lead by example. I wanted to be the man that my father never was to me. Now I look back and I can have resentment for him, but I don’t.”
Kenya Bonner, StreetWise Contributor