Wednesday, May 20, 2015

HHCF Awarded Safe Summer Initiative Grant by City of San Jose for FREE Summer Camp for Teens

City of San Jose Awards Hip-Hop Chess Federation Grant for Chess and Life Strategies Summer Camp
HHCF Opens FREE Summer Camp to Keep Kids Focused on School and Off the Streets     

May 20th, 2015 San Jose, CA - The Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF) is happy to announce they will be hosting a FREE Chess and Life Strategies summer camp starting June 15th to August 15th 2015 at the Seven Trees Community Center in San Jose, CA. This powerful, innovative education program is brought to you in part by the city of San Jose awarding the HHCF the Safe Summer Initiative Grant (SSIG). The purpose of the SSIG is to give funds to organizations that strive to help teens in underserved areas. “It is a deep honor for the HHCF to be awarded the SSIG.” stated VP of Outreach Meek Gaborski. “Our commitment to inspire and enable young minds to higher heights, is rapidly getting more recognition. Everyone in HHCF is excited.”

The HHCF Chess and Life Strategies program teaches more than chess. In the HHCF chess positions on the board are matched with lessons that teach teens the power of patience, planning and independent thinking methods. “We make the game more culturally relevant to young people by showing them rappers, business leaders and politicians who play chess.” stated HHCF Founder, Adisa Banjoko. “This gets their  attention and allows them to see themselves in the game. Sadly in the summer,  many kids get into gangs, drugs and bad behavior because they don’t have anyone to work with them. HHCF is here for the kids of San Jose. We have a lot of gang activity out here. ”

Adisa Banjoko recently served as the education and history consultant to the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) exhibit Living Like Kings  in St. Louis, Missouri. The Living Like Kings  grand opening broke all previous attendance records for WCHOF grand openings.  RZA from Wu-Tang Clan (HHCF’s Director of Ourtreach) and Adisa spent time in St. Louis last year after the police killing of Mike Brown. They spoke to more than 1000  at-risk teens, including incarcerated youth. Their lectures centered on the impact of chess and martial arts can have on their  discipline and decision making. In 2015, Adisa Banjoko gave powerful lectures at Lehigh, Oberlin College and University of Connecticut among others.

HHCF also released a mixtape promoting their ideals of chess and peace at .

For more on HHCF and their Chess and Life Strategies  programs visit

About HHCF: The Hip-Hop Chess Federation is the world's first nonprofit (501c3) to fuse music, chess and martial arts to promote unity, strategy and nonviolence. They host lectures, panels, and celebrity chess events to help at-risk, gang-impacted and gang intentional youth make better decisions in life. The HHCF has been featured on Good Morning America, Forbes, Chess Life, VIBE and Rolling Stone.  


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chess, Choices and Needles in the Park....

This morning I was at a park in San Jose with my students. They were playing tag, pushing one another on the swings and throwing footballs as kids love to do. Suddenly one of the boys approached me smiling, waving a hypodermic needle.

"Mr. B, what is this for? What does it do?!"

"Put that down right now!" I barked. "Right now."

He dropped it. Scared. I never yelled at any of the kids like that before.

"Where did you get this?" I asked.

"By the bench. By the baby swings." he said in a low tone.

"Did you poke yourself? Did you poke anybody? I need to know the truth." My voice had less traces of panic it.

He shook is head. "I just picked it up. I did not know what it was."

I called all the students over. I explained what the needle on the cement was often used for. That people use it to shoot drugs and you can get HIV, Hepatitis C or B from getting cut by them and how those things often kill people. I told them "When I was your age, I never played in parks with needles and stuff in them. You shouldn't have do. But this is real life. So, you have to know what is going on in this world. I know people say 'Say no to drugs' but you guys have to know this will cut your life short. Immediately. Cut it right off..."

I told him to go wash his hands then I had him see the nurse to look at his hands for abrasions or cuts just to make sure he was ok. He was.

I got rid of the needle.

Just as I headed off I saw a mother bring two 3 year olds to the area where the needle had been laying. My heart started racing. "What if one of them found it and scraped themselves or their brother or sister with the needle, not knowing?" I asked myself. "What if the mother never saw. She'd always wonder." They waddled past me, oblivious.

 I had the next few classes come out with me and clean the park. I told most of them why. I got exhausted emotionally telling 12, 13, and 14 year olds what happened. I had a cousin die of heroin at 19...I kept seeing his face....Sometimes I see people who look like, what I think he would look like if he were alive....Their faces stay in my mind.... I recently had a dream about a student I mentored who was killed a few months ago. In my dream, he was in a fight with another student. In the dream I watched the fight and did nothing to break it up. I awoke shaken.

Sometimes I rub people the wrong way. Don't get me wrong. I'm friendly, and silly. I watch cartoons more than anything, mostly to escape the pain of reality. However, at times, I can be short with people or seemingly lost in thought. I often am.

I feel like when I do my job wrong, death happens. I know we all die anyway. I know. But when I don't get through to my kids, I know a jail cell or a coffin is waiting for them.

When I started jiu-jitsu at Ralph Gracies' he used to get so pissed off if he thought you were doing a move sloppily or without passion and focus. It used to boggle my mind. "Why is he tripping?" I would ask myself. I understand now though. His fear, was that learning his teachings wrong you might find yourself in a real situation and you would lose. He took your loss personally.

"Didn't that guy train with Ralph? I thought they knew how to fight better." That was Ralph's nightmare and he still gives his all passing on the wisdom and the toughness of mind and body.

"Didn't he learn from Adisa.? I thought she played chess?" That, is my nightmare.

I take these losses personally. So if I ever seem like I take the methods of HHCF too seriously. If I ever come off like understanding Hip-Hop history and subculture matter a lot...If I ever seem like I take chess and life strategies too seriously. This is why.

Because kids bring me hypodermic needs in class and I'm trying to make sure they live. Not just today, but ten years from now I want them to be alive because I taught them how to survive.

Over the course of cleaning the park we found a bag of weed (with a little left in it), a weed pipe and a lighter. Gang tags were all over the park benches. Our kids deserve better. I will do all I can to give them better and I promise you. I will die trying.

I don't have any love for any gang. I don't have any love for dope dealers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

VIDEO: Adisa Banjoko Presentation at Oberlin College

Hidden in Plain Sight: The History of Hip-Hop Chess

Oberlin College April 14th 2015

Part 1 : Watch Video (intro to HHCF philosophy)

Part 2: Watch Video (forgotten history of Bobby Fischer, Afrika Bambaataa and Bruce Lee)

Part 3: (no video-  technical difficulties)

Part 4: Watch Videos (new era of non-violence and innovation)

Testimonials after presentation:

Adisa Banjoko had forever changed the perceptions and trajectory of the Oberlin student body. The diversity and depth of his topics was astounding. Not only were we informed of a powerful intellectual history of Hip-Hop, we were also given a once in a lifetime perspective on non-violence. All the students that head his words were infused with his spirit and desire to positively impact the world. - Ali Amiri, Co-Head Oberlin Chess Club 
"Adisa painted an inspirational picture of how individuals can use whatever tools are at their disposal to affect change in the world. Adisa has proven that chess, hip-hop, and martial arts can be used as a powerful hybrid to empower young people discarded from our social system. His talk kindled a renewed spirit of service within our chess community at Oberlin, and his message is a powerful one which should be shared with many communities with the ability to improve the lives of those around them.”
          - Constantine Ananiadis, Oberlin Chess Club Advisor

A Word of Thanks from University of Connecticut

If you would like me to come speak at your University, education or business conference. Visit !

Monday, May 11, 2015

LISTEN: HHCF Creates Soundcloud Page, Sharing Songs from NEW Mixtape Street Games Vol. 2

Go to and listen to the FULL release of Street Games Vol. 1 Mixtape and get a taste of what is to come in Vol. 2. The complete new mixtape drops July 4th 2015.

Three tracks from the new mixtape are Lost Souls, by Amaar, ft. Nio the Gift, Chess Hustlers Anthem by 5th Ryder and Warcry by Artson ft. Zumbu from Zion I and Rakaa Iriscience from Dilated Peoples.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Download the new PDF Sampler for the upcoming book Royal Wisdom: The History of Hip-Hop Chess

   The cover for Adisa Banjoko's upcoming book Royal Wisdom: The History of Hip-Hop and Chess

   Download a sample PDF of the book now at (look for this painting on the bottom left of the homepage!)

This painting is an amazing 8x12 foot piece by Carlos Rodriguez and Rene Guyiot for Reyes Muertos Army. Check them out at Photo Credit: Helene Ehrlich

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Tupac and the Search for Lost Gold


“ If they had lived in another kind of society, their exceptional mathematical talents might have been better used. But they were Black.” - Malcolm X

Malcolm X was mentored by many people as he learned to hustle on the streets of Boston and New York. One of the main people to help him survive on the streets was a man by the name of West Indian Archie. He was a numbers runner. The numbers game was kind of like a lottery for the hood.

West Indian Archie's claim to fame was that unlike other numbers runners who needed to write every customers number on paper, he had them all memorized. In the course of Malcolm’s adventures on the grimy underbelly of American cities, he came across many Black men who had brilliant, innovative minds. These minds were not refined by the American schools and polished for a higher purpose. Because of their color, and class they often fell to street violence from the drug trade, or were imprisoned. Just the other day a teacher at my job was asking about why we needed to teach the metric system since America does not use it. I told her the hood uses the metric system every day. Those kids know how to convert milligrams to ounces and pounds to kilograms all day. Sadly, its just for all the wrong reasons.

I created the Hip-Hop Chess Federation in 2006 in part to help find those gifted young souls who were unaware that their gifts could be cultivated for leadership at Google or on Wall Street. This idea came after meeting with a group of incarcerated kids who displayed amazing cognitive skill and ability on a chessboard, but made poor life choices and ended up in juvenile hall. I started taking the positions on the board, reframing them as life situations and helping them escape the traps in the street.

Under the alias of “Makaveli” Tupac Shakur arguably wrote some of his most aggressive raps ever. The name “Makaveli” came after Tupac (known to be a voracious reader) studied The Prince by Italian military strategist Niccolo Machiavelli. Machiavelli, like Tupac was far ahead of his time. He wrote things like “Men shrink less from offending one who inspires love than one who inspires fear.” Niccolo Machiavelli was a logical man not mislead by emotion. I believe this helped Tupac greatly as he assessed his enemies and ideas about how to deal with them.

Niccolo Machiavelli, Author of The Prince

The works of Machiavelli resonated deeply inside Tupac on a near spiritual level. Almost as soon as he was free, the identity of “Makaveli” arises.  He wrote some of his most discussed work under this pen name. In the song Don’t stop, he spits “Mr. Makaveli moving pieces like telekinesis/ It’s a chess game, lets play with real pieces”

For the casual listener, this rhyme may have little to no meaning. However, I believe a deeper look at Tupac’s life inside Clinton Correctional Facility in New York State highlights a deeper experience unfolding.

Inside, many prisoners enjoy chess as a way to stay mentally sharp and gain philosophical clarity. Most jails however, are not supportive of prisoners playing chess. Despite a newsworthy victory in 2008 of New Jersey inmate over the Princeton Chess Team.

One of the alleged main fears of correctional officers and wardens is a false fear that prisoners might use algebraic notation (the method in which chess games are documented) as a way to pass on notes and messages that would be indecipherable.  

Nevertheless, many prisoners find themselves in solitary confinement without pieces or boards to play with. Lost in the blackness of “the hole”, inmates  communicate through the walls. One way they pass time is by playing chess. They do this by visualizing the chessboard and speaking to one another through the walls in the language of algebraic notation. This is a feat not easily achieved by those who can do it accurately.

One might call out ‘e4” signaling whites kings pawn moving the center. It is often a common way many start a chess game. A most common response by black is “e5” and so on. These kinds of game are commonplace in prisons across the country.

Famed French psychologist Alfred Binet conducted some of the earliest works on how the minds works while playing chess. He wrote in part “If one could see what goes on in a chess player’s head, one would find a stirring world of sensations, images, movements, passions and an ever changing panorama of states of consciousness.”

I have never researched his stint in prison long enough to know if Tupac went to the hole, or played chess in the manner listed above. I do however, personally know prisoners who played in that exact manner while held in solitary confinement. It would seem nearly impossible to me that he would not have heard about these kinds of games happening in “the hole”.  When Tupac speaks about playing with real pieces, he speaks, like the man he was. He was newly freed, and not always having the luxury of physical pieces he was sought to experience the entirety of all the game that chess and life have to offer.

Hip-Hop Chess tournament about to begin at juvenile hall in St. Louis, MO.

Any self taught chess players who can function at that level, should for all intents and purposes be builders of the next Apple, Intel and Adobe- not just work for them. These lost youth could be building a new digital infrastructure for the world. I’m talking about coders, designers, innovators of new technology methods and business models are boxed out before they can begin to change the planet. If we approached the identification and cultivation of these minds with sincerity and strategy we might be able to cut outsourcing for American businesses in half.   

These are the kind of people Malcolm X lamented in his autobiography. Some of the brightest innovators in business, education and science are not located in India or China. They are right here, right now, having their talents neglected and undermined by schools that do not value their gifts. That is why I walk the streets of the hood mining for lost gold. If you are in the hood and you want to know where the lost gold is that I’m seeking out, look in the mirror.

Adisa Banjoko is Founder and President of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF). The HHCF is the first non-profit 501(c)3 to fuse music, chess and martial arts, to promote unity, strategy and nonviolence. To learn more follow on Instagram @realhiphopchess or visit .


Uproxx Covers HHCF Founder plus, FREE PDF download of Bobby Bruce and the Bronx Available

The book Bobby Bruce & the Bronx by Adisa the Bishop is now available from this day forward FREE in PDF form. Please enjoy it and share ...