Fort Wayne received an unconventional valentine this February—a youth-driven music video that celebrates civic pride. And believe it or not, there’s an Ivy Tech Community College connection to all of it.
The video, which features the original hip-hop song, “My City,” is a five and a half minute tribute to the Summit City starring 11 local rap artists. They share their inspirational message against the backdrop of such notable downtown landmarks as Coney Island, Parkview Field and the STAR Financial Building.
As of early April, the video has received more than 140,000 views on You Tube alone. As a single released in January, the song has benefitted from heavy rotation on local urban-mix radio stations, WHPP 106.3 FM and WILD 96.3 FM.
The Mad Ants have adopted it during their home basketball games, with other local sports teams having pledged to do the same. Even The Journal Gazette and Indiana’s NewsCenter have acknowledged the buzz, providing their own coverage on this homegrown crowd-pleaser.
The combined airplay and media attention has been nice—real Nyce—for the 11 performers, particularly the three who are Ivy Tech–Northeast students.
DeAngelo Samuel, aka Nyzzy Nyce, opens the video on a rooftop with fellow musician Drew Shade. Students Kendrick Royal, aka Kae-P, and Jermell Clark, aka Moe Cheez, join in shortly thereafter. Royal takes over lead vocals while walking down South Calhoun Street and Clark takes his cue seconds later exiting Coney Island.
A Better Fort board member Alex Smith initiated this feel-good musical sensation. A Better Fort is, in a sense, Smith’s valentine to the city where he grew up. The organization is a charitable one he co-founded in 2010 to provide the best opportunities for young adults by encouraging community involvement and service.
“I went to the board last year with a proposal to broaden the demographic of young adults who could be attracted to our organization and felt that hip-hop, with its rich history of breaking down barriers of culture and race, was an appropriate way to capture attention,” Smith said.
The project became known as HipHop4theCity. Smith approached Samuel of the local hip-hop trio, CertiFLYYed, where Royal is a co-member. Together, Smith and Samuel issued a call to action within Fort Wayne’s hip-hop community, and they received a response from nearly two dozen artists who wanted to audition.
Samuel, who penned the lyrics some time ago, said he didn’t have an immediate plan for the song until Smith presented his idea for a 21st century Summit City anthem. “Everything was authentic,” Samuel said. “It wasn’t a song we made to get to the top; it was strictly made because of the love we have for our city.”
Clark added, “I am all about uplifting others and being a part of something positive, so it made sense to do whatever it took to get my voice heard on this song.”
For all of those involved in the experience, they can look toward ambitious futures.
As for HipHop4theCity, Smith said a template based on “My City” is in the early development stages, with Indianapolis and Houston set to showcase their own local talent soon.
As for the students, Samuel and Clark plan to complete degrees in graphic design and Royal in business administration.
And each of them is passionate about staying relevant in the hip-hop scene, with CertiFLYYed having recently signed with Sony/BMG Music as proof. “I made a promise to my mother that I would finish my studies no matter how successful I become,” Royal said. “The most important thing I have learned is that the music industry is 10 percent music and 90 percent business.”
This touch of fame with “My City” has humbled many of the song’s performers. “As an artist, when you get positive feedback from your fans it makes you feel like this is what you were meant to do in life, as in it being your calling,” Samuel said. It appears he’s stumbled upon the best valentine of all—the one that loves you back.