Multigenerational crew, GREAT MINDS’ ALLIANCE infuses message of diversity, equality and inclusion on new album, “DEAN’S LIST”
NEW HAVEN, CT – As an MC, published author, academic with a doctorate, entrepreneur, activist, podcaster and former pastor Dr. Thomas RaShad Easley (also known by his stage name, RaShad Eas) is a rare kind of artist. Through his connections over the years, RaShad unintentionally formed a crew of thirteen MCs, poets, singers, dancers and producers who also are scientists, sociologists, folklorists, educators, pastors, mentors, former wrongfully incarcerated individuals and former gang members. As most of them came together in a University setting, RaShad named his crew “GREAT MINDS ALLIANCE.” “We’re talking to everybody,” RaShad said “but we’re also talking to people in this environment – in the academy – at the same time.”
The crew has kept building and growing, making music that is an intelligent blend of Hip Hop, Soul and Spoken Word, combined with spiritual elements. Passionate about their own people’s as well as others’ elevation, the “all black crew” will release their “Dean’s List” album on the final day of Black History Month and the Leap Day – February 29th. Their music addresses important issues such as race, politics, religion, and the environment because they want the music to stand for something.
“That’s why I describe my sound as ‘intelligent’ because I can’t sound completely ignorant. We call our sound “Save Your Life Music” because if you apply the wisdom you hear, it should change your life. I have too much education to sound ignorant,” RaShad affirmed. Unlike some mainstream urban artists, RaShad refuses to ignore the fact that he is educated. Rappers like Ludacris, Rapsody, J. Cole and Lil Wayne graduated from college but they aren’t talking about it. RaShad said “We talk about it. That’s why we named the album “Dean’s List.”
Recorded in eight different places, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Alabama, Ohio, Connecticut and three different studios in North Carolina, “The Dean’s List” includes a hefty 18 tracks, including “Cool By Design (CBD).” Four crew members appear on “CBD” starting with RaShad Eas on crew introductions. In short order, Sitch (a former student and choirmaster at RaShad’s former church) joins in “Erykah Badu” style, followed by the other MCs (B. and Mitch Darrell) tearing it up lyrically.
The project allows all the crew members to shine in their own way with what they bring to the table. RaShad said “Our music is the bomb but in some ways, our story is even better than the music.” The story began in 2011 when RaShad decided to release his debut album, “Transitions.” When a friend of his producer heard it, he contacted RaShad about making a music video “Use Your Head”.
Since then, music has helped RaShad connect with all types of individuals. “What I do in music is actually what I do at work when I’m a Dean at Yale University. What I do in music is what I used to do when I was a pastor in North Carolina. To me, music is the connector. That’s what I love about it and that’s why I can make music with a former gang member and a former incarcerated person. When we’re making music, it’s an equal playing ground because we can compete, support and mentor one another simultaneously.” Over the past eight years, members of his crew have been making music on each other’s projects. The idea to bring out one big album together was born, and a little over a year ago they started working on music for “Great Minds Alliance.”
Interestingly, the release of “The Dean’s List” marks the first time RaShad has appeared on an album with a Parental Advisory label. As a former pastor and someone who still cares for the spiritual development of others, RaShad never had the need to curse in order to deliver his message. For this project, some of the artists used some choice words to express themselves, and RaShad didn’t want to stifle anyone from being who they are.
Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, the former campus pastor hails from a civil rights family. He is an assistant Dean at Yale University in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a diversity professional whose lyrics are packed with knowledge, love and wisdom. RaShad’s solo music projects include his debut album along with “Southern Black Gentleman,” “A Conversation with Pauli Murray” and “The Chronicles of Professor Prizmatic.”
His myriad of entrepreneurial endeavors never stopped him from making new music, and his next project is an album which delves into the good and bad of leadership. “Life of a Leader” will explore what it takes to become a leader and is about making leadership look gangsta! RaShad says that people always tell him that they are leaders. But, he says “a real leader doesn’t have to declare it – other people call you that because they follow you.”
To listen to music by the Great Minds’ Alliance and RaShad Eas, or to follow RaShad and his crew on social media, please visit: