A creative and talkative child, Amina grew up in her father’s homeland of Nigeria where she and her family moved shortly after her 7th birthday. She wouldn’t return to the U.S. for good until after high school. "We didn’t have that much over there at that time so I missed a whole lot of early hip-hop,” she explains, “…but in retrospect, I consider myself lucky to have had influences of not just Nigerian musicians like Fela and Sunny Ade but also American artists like The Spinners, Roberta Flack, Miles Davis, and so many others were influences for me, because my mom played it all!” She admits, “So, with roots like that, it’s no wonder I became hip-hop!”
Amina is now an internationally recognized voice of grassroots hip-hop activism. She is a writer, performing artist, filmmaker, and hip-hop practitioner who has spent the past 20 years involved in the preservation of Chicago’s hip-hop culture and community. Amina is founder of Chicago Hip-Hop Initiative, a hip-hop community empowerment collaborative; and Co-Founder of Chicago Hip-Hop Heritage Month, an officially recognized annual observance (since 2003) that celebrates Chicago’s local hip-hop arts and community throughout the entire month of July. She’s also a respected emcee, poet, and founding member of Urbanized Music, a production duo of Amina & Coolout Chris, and collective of Chicago-based true school artists who’ve performed internationally promoting the aesthetics of hip-hop culture over media hype.
Amina has sat on panels alongside Gloria Steinem, Fat Joe, Dr. Carol Adams, Billy Wimsatt, DMC, Bakari Kitwana, WaterFlow, Dres, Harry Allen, Jeff Chang, Joan Morgan, among many other activists, entertainers, and academics. She has taken part in Hip-Hop Theater Festival (MCA, Chicago), Taking It To The Streets (Chicago), Campus Progress National Student Conference (Washington, DC), Antioch College Hip-Hop Convergence (Yellow Springs, OH), SLUM Fest (Saint Louis), and Remixing The Art Of Social Change, (Chicago). She has performed at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Chicago Cultural Center, The Vic, Double Door, Joe’s and a host of nightclubs and performance venues.
Selected in 2010 to serve as a United States Cultural Envoy, Amina spent 2 weeks leading a team of 3 hip-hop artists from Chicago as they toured 7 regions in the West African nation of Cote d’Ivoire. They performed, conducted workshops, met local artists and helped foster an understanding of American culture while encouraging young people to use hip-hop progressively. This assignment was chronicled in the independently produced documentary Keep It Moving-Chicago to Cote d’Ivoire (April ‘11), which premiered to much acclaim in the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival. The exchange gave birth to the creation of the Cote d’Ivoire Hip-Hop Initiative, a registered NGO, committed to the same as their sister group in Chicago.
Amina currently teaches a course on Hip-Hop history at Columbia College, Chicago. She also lectures, writes, and performs hip-hop, and spoken word around the country.