Rabbi Darkside /
Samuel J. Sellers
Performer, Recording Artist & Hip Hop Professor
CEO, Say Word Entertainment LLC / The New School / Co-Founder, Hip Hop Re:Education Project
MC / DJ / Beatboxer / Educator / Cultural Ambassador
Sam Sellers (fka Rabbi Darkside) creates radically inclusive spaces through music at concerts, on dancefloors and in classrooms. With an expansive discography begun on wax in 2001 and a performance career touching 5 continents, there are countless places where you may have encountered him, from international stages to worldwide guest appearances on records, head coaching on MTV's Made to headlining the Blue Note Jazz Festival, or facilitating workshops from community centers in Uganda to Teacher's College at Columbia University. And they continue to grow with his dedication to artistic evolution, helping people connect through the cypher, independent business operation and a deepening catalog. Recently he released his first self-produced project, A Skeleton at a Typewriter, (recorded, mixed and mastered at The Greenhouse BK by art rap sculptor Willie Green), added to his C.V. teaching turntablism courses at The New School, headlined Breakthrough dance fest in Zurich, and was minted to 2019 End of the Weak Challenge of Champs U.S. Vice-Champion. He's been the official DJ for Saturday Night Live Season 43 & 44 afterparties; held down 4 years as resident DJ/MC at renowned jam session The Lesson; and is in his 7th year teaching university Hip Hop seminars of his own design. He is also an ordained wedding officiant, having performed 14 secular ceremonies.
PERFORMING & RECORDING ARTIST
Rabbi Darkside is an MC/DJ/Beatboxer. His movements aim to incite empathy and empowerment through social justice and creative freedom, seen and heard in his musical recordings, live shows and published writings.
His prowess as a multi-Elemental artist has led to 15 international tours, landed his latest album atop the CMJ Hip Hop charts and found him on MTV’s “Made,” Okayplayer, New York Times, the Today Show, CBS Early Show, HipHopDX, 2DopeBoyz and the Village Voice.
Darkside blurs the line between Hip Hop, Jazz, Folk, Poetry and Progressive Soul, facilitated by his mastery of improvisation and elastic collaborative abilities. He is the 20-time Freestyle Mondays “Off the Head Gameshow” Champion and the 2010 End of the Weak MC Challenge U.S. Co-Champion, along with winning every freestyle rap competition in NYC in the new millennium.
Darkside has a discography that includes 3 full-length solo albums, 5 full-length group albums, 2 live projects, 3 mixtapes of original material, a handful of digital singles and over 40 guest appearances on records from around the world... with a new album released Spring 2018 and another on the way. He has been blessed to take his talents on the road internationally as touring musician, from the favelas of south Brazil to an artistic residency at the Mama Shelter Hotel in Paris.
In NYC, he is entering his 4th year as resident DJ/MC at the renowned weekly live jam session The Lesson, continuing holding down weekly nights on turntables across the city since 2000. He has been called upon to DJ private events, galas and fundraisers ranging from the National Book Award (Cipriani) to the 24 Hour Plays on Broadway (BB Kings) to the American Cancer Society's Person of the Year (Plaza Hotel) to the JED Foundation (Cipriani) to the 14th st Y (Cipriani). His esteem as curator has led to gigs as artistic programmer at MOB Brooklyn; host of a variety of live events; appear in a bounty of podcasts, panels and interviews. He has been a visible, vocal proponent for a range of causes, from the preservation of 5 Pointz to Occupy Wall Street to the safety of college campuses as sanctuary spaces. All this while stretching his performance range as a member of Beatboxer Entertainment; acting in Suzan Lori Parks 365 Plays in 365 Days at The Public Theater; co-writing an ensemble play commissioned by the Museum of Jewish Heritage; and collaborating on a dozen different performances at La Mama Theater.
Recent performance highlights include featuring at the 2016-2018 American Beatbox Championships, headlining the 2016 and 2015 Blue Note Jazz Festival (NYC), 2014 SXSW, 2013 CMJ Festival, 2012 WNYC Battle of the Boroughs and the 2012 Atlantic Antic. Along the journey, he has shared the stage and studio with Aloe Blacc, Antibalas, The Beatbox House, bell hooks, Biz Markie, Black Sheep, Blue Man Group, Common, Cory Henry, Da Beatminerz, DJ Rob Swift, Eklips, Fishbone, Freestyle Fellowship, Gogol Bordello, Homeboy Sandman, J-Live, Kanye West, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Marley Marl, PitchBlak Brass Band, Prince Paul, Rahzel, Rocé, Robert Glasper, The Roots, Rosie Perez, Sadat X, Slick Rick, Soulive, Talib Kweli, Tauk, and The Coup. He is also an ordained wedding officiant, recently performing his 12th wedding ceremony.
TEACHING ARTS & EDUCATION
Rabbi D's classroom journey began in 2000 as an NYCDOE Social Studies and ELA teacher at MS 88 in Brooklyn. After 4 years of full-time teaching, curriculum writing and summers mentoring new teachers as a NYCTF Fellows Advisor, he left for the non-profit world, first as program administrator and then teaching artist. During almost a decade of work in this realm, he established himself as a master Teaching Artist with the Urban Arts Partnership, co-creating the innovative NYS Regents test prep program "Fresh Prep," writing and recording 4 albums/60 tracks of content-based, standards aligned rap songs. This program reached astronomical heights, including having Darkside's songs performed and recorded by legends Talib Kweli, Sadat X, Dres of the Black Sheep and Jidenna, and being the first-ever arts ed project to receive funding from the Robin Hood Foundation. Along the way he co-facilitated Master Classes with Daryl "DMC"McDaniels, Rosie Perez, Pharaohe Monch, Kweli and more. He was then exposed to the sinister side of the non-profit industrial complex and ventured into self-employment, co-founding the Hip Hop Re:Education Project with longtime collaborator Fabian "Farbeon" Saucedo. Darkside was honored as a Hip Hop Education Fellow at the H2ED Hip Hop Ed Center at NYU, invited to present at the Hip Hop Summer Institute at UW-Madison, and share the work of the Hip Hop Re:Ed Project at the NAME (National Association for Multi-Cultural Education) conference in Oakland in 2013.
His work in the NYC Public Schools has continued as Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Leadership Academy from 2013-2015, then as Writer in Residence at Bronx Academy of Letters, following in the footsteps of poets Willie Perdomo, Elana Bell, Jon Sands and Caits Meissner. Along with local work, he's ventured in the realm of international exchange and cultural diplomacy: In 2015 he was selected to travel to Kampala, Uganda as a Hip Hop Ambassador with the Next Level Initiative, a collaboration between the U.S. State Department and UNC-Chapel Hill. Further educational work abroad has included being the Visiting Artist at the Universal American School in Dubai, UAE (2017), a residency at Inspire! Hip Hop Academy in East London (2017), and leading workshops for youth groups visiting NYC from across Europe.
In 2015 he offered the chance to propose a university seminar of his design at The New School (NYC). In his third year on faculty, he continues teaching two courses (Hip Hop Pedagogy & Practice; Hip Hop Skills, Style & Science), in addition to co-teaching a summer course with pioneering turntablist/New School Professor DJ Rob Swift entitled Mixin' the City. He is also the faculty advisor to the New School Hip Hop Collective.
Darkside has recently facilitated workshops for participants young and old at Spotify, the Queens Public Library and Teacher's College at Columbia University. In Spring 2018, he has the extreme honor of being invited by his alma mater, Grinnell College, to teach a short-course intensive entitled Hip Hop Education, Praxis & Action: The Cypher Paradigm.