Chadwick “Niles” Phillips on the power of music and understanding your story

Chadwick “Niles” Phillips is an artist who lifts other artists. He has a long history of success in hip-hop and has been working to bring hip hop to new tables through his Hip-Hop History and Art curriculum and to bring new artists to larger stages through his work with Avant Garde.

Niles is an artist, a teacher, a host, a Renaissance man using art to build and frame the future. Without irony or dismay, he talked about being happy to know that his experience has brought him to live in the right place at the right time – especially in terms of working with students to help them learn about the history of hip-hop but also to learn to tell their own stories and learn to live the life they want to live. His knowledge and character are assets to his students and the performers around him but I think his greatest, and most infectious asset, is his optimism. (He is the right person and this is the right time!)

His advice that I will try hardest to internalize? “Don’t let the hell around you impact the paradise within.” We have the power to make the most of our time, place and energy. There’s a line (that I’ll corrupt) from his recent release A Whole New Beginning: “we’ll hold each other up/we’ll hold each other accountable.” It’s a line that struck me when I heard it but after meeting Niles, I understand that this is more than a promise, it’s an ethos that he lives and shares. I’m excited to have him instill that in the next generation and hope it will rub off on me too.

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