Hip hop and chess are down like that


As a product of 16 years of dance training, I’ve taken a lot of hip hop classes in my day. And I mean a lot. From music video numbers to some mild breaking to the crazy pop-lock stuff that made Wade Robson famous.

But in those 16 years, I never had a hip-hop class that taught me to mesh music, lyrics and motion together with chess.

Yes, chess. Sounds weird, right?

Well, the idea didn’t sound weird to Adisa Banjoko, hip hop journalist, chess fiend, and — you guessed it — founder of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation.

After success in San Francisco as an after-school program, Banjoko has taken HHCF to the Fremont area to launch his Jay-Z-meets-Bobby-Fischer concept as a summer camp.

Banjoko explained to Union City Patch the connections between hip hop lyrics and the moves on a chess board, and applying those problem solving skills toward leading a positive life:

“You’re royalty. You carry yourself with dignity. You know who you are. You have to navigate and move like a king.”

The camp has joined forces with dance and performing arts camp RAW Talents. Founder Meek Gaborski doesn’t just teach dance, she encourages students the tools to pursue “realistic” dance or cheer goals, because not everybody is going to become a famous dancer.

She brings in industry success stories to speak to her campers, such as Nancy Cartwright, who has been active in the TV industry for almost 30 years as the voice of Bart Simpson.

Campers at the HHCF and RAW Talents hybrid can mix and match programs to take part in. Classes take place Monday through Friday in Fremont. Prospective participants can get more information on the program on both Facebook and Twitter, or register at

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