The Doctor of Hip-Hop Blake Brandes on the Benefit of Random Encounters, Hip-Hop for Good, and Dropping the Beat


Blake Brandes (@BlakeBrandes) is a motivational speaker, hip-hop educator, and music producer.  He was the recipient of the Marshall Scholarship, one of the most competitive postgraduate awards in the world, which he used to complete his Master’s and PhD on hip-hop and global youth cultures at the University of Kent in England. While he was completing his PhD, Blake was also running a music production and artist management company, where he produced Top 40 radio songs and played over 75 shows across Europe and the US.  Blake completed a 3 year term as chief program officer at Champions for Kids, where he helped design service projects and corporate partnerships that resulted in over 1 million children receiving needed resources across America. Blake was also recently invited to audition for America’s Got Talent, where he received a standing ovation from a crowd of 3,000 people in Madison Square Garden.

Blake is co-founder of the personal development company, Motivational Millennial, and co-host of the Motivational Millennial Podcast. He serves as Chief Innovation Officer for the benefit corporation, Simple Giving Inc., and he runs a hip-hop motivational speaking business as President of Decrypt Productions. Blake is currently finishing a motivational hip-hop album called Remix Your Reality, and he also runs a blog called The Up Beat, where he publishes rap videos and blog posts on motivational topics like overcoming challenges and balling out of control.


Books Discussed

Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown
Self Compassion” by Kristin Neff
Choke” by Chuck Palahniuk?

Show Notes

2:00 What Blake does
4:00 How Blake first found hip hop
5:00 Cypher circle in high school
7:30 Blake’s work at the production company, The Drum Line
8:30 Finding himself in hip hop through poetry, lack of negative feedback, and initial cyber bullying
12:00 The benefit of random encounters
14:30 Wake Forest and researching how hip hop can be used in a productive, socially conscious way
15:30 Doing three full time jobs at the same time – free album on:
19:45 Robin’s preparation for ballet – “Lose Yourself” opening song of 8 Mile
20:30 How Blake picks his flow music – “Halcyon and On and On” by Orbital and “The Realest” by I-20
23:00 More random connections that got Blake many different jobs
25:00 Motivational speaking work using hip hop in schools
27:00 Blake teaches beat boxing to students (and to Robin)
31:00 Motivational Millennial and participation medal generation
34:00 National program to get resources for homeless children through school districts
32:55 – 34:20 Giving empowerment so that others have the tools to solve their own problems
36:06 – 38:12 Year of Hip Hop Motivation
44:00 “Life is essentially improvisational comedy” – teaches to ask students “What else could this mean?” because what you focus on becomes your reality
46:00 Improv tactics in any genre: Yes and, fun/absurdity, and having the confidence to know the story doesn’t end here
48:00 Blog: Ask More Loving Questions
53:00 Robin’s Cafe
1:04:00 Getting the cafe up and running in only one month
1:07:00 Running a business that you don’t have to be there every day while building up community
1:08:00 Being intentional about building relationships of people that can support you
1:10:00 Robin’s relationship with his parents and leading with connection and love
1:13:00 Being conscious of reaching out and making connection in an authentic way

Flip the Script

1:16:00 Robin’s first experience with ballet
1:21:00 Gender fluidity
1:25:00 Robin’s experience in the Castro
1:24:03 – 1:26:30 Robin’s sense of masculinity and experience in martial arts
1:29:00 How gender is perceived based on something as simple as a haircut or clothing
1:32:00 Persona finances – getting kids information when they are younger and it is accessible
1:34:00  Baby steps and celebration
1:36:00 Anat Baniel Method
1:38:00 The Option Institute
1:40:00 “Don’t do it if it’s not fun, but if you have to do it, make it fun”
1:42:00 Freestyle session

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