M. K. Asante

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MK Asante
MK Asante 2015.jpg
MK Asante, 2015
Born Harare, Zimbabwe
Occupation Writer, filmmaker, professor, rapper
Nationality American
Alma mater UCLA
University of London, SOAS
Lafayette College
Genre Memoir, creative nonfiction, poetry, hip-hop, African-American literature, documentary
Notable works It's Bigger Than Hip Hop, Buck: A Memoir

MK Asante is an American author, filmmaker, rapper, and professor at Morgan State University. He is best known for his memoir Buck.


Born in Harare, Zimbabwe and raised in Philadelphia, he is the son of scholar Molefi Kete Asante and choreographer Kariamu Welsh. Growing up he struggled with the disintegration of his family, the incarceration of his brother, and the city's urban decay.[1] After being expelled from multiple schools, he discovered his talent for writing at 16 and decided to pursue it as a career.[2]


Cover of Buck: A Memoir (Random House) by MK Asante

Asante is the author of four books, most notably Buck, a memoir about his troubled yet profound youth in Philadelphia. Buck was selected as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick and made the Washington Post bestseller list in 2014 and 2015.[3][4] Poet Maya Angelou, who mentored Asante, described Buck as:

"A story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style."

His other books are the poetry collections, Beautiful. And Ugly Too and Like Water Running Off My Back and the creative nonfiction book It's Bigger Than Hip Hop.


Asante is a Sundance Institute Feature Film Fellow for the movie adaptation of his memoir Buck. Asante wrote and produced the documentary 500 Years Later, a documentary about slavery which received the Breaking the Chains Award from the United Nations' UNESCO. Asante directed and produced The Black Candle, a documentary about Kwanzaa, co-written and narrated by Maya Angelou.

Lectures and essays[edit]

Asante has delivered numerous distinguished lectures, including the Yale University Master’s Tea; Vanderbilt University Walter R. Murray Jr. Lecture; Southern Methodist University Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture; and commencement addresses at UCLA, University of Wisconsin, Arizona State University, Vassar, and Harvard University.

Asante has lectured and performed in over 25 countries including at SWU Music & Arts in Brazil; on Robben Island in South Africa; and at the British Library in England.[relevant? ]

Asante has written essays on art, Hip Hop, technology, and culture for USA Today, Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times.[citation needed]


Asante's debut music project, the Buck: Original Book Soundtrack, was released on May 14, 2015. The Soundtrack features hip-hop music by Asante and is inspired by his memoir Buck. Okayplayer, the music website founded by The Roots drummer Questlove, described the project as, "Delivering realism as vivid as Nas‘ work on the seminal Illmatic LP, MK Asante has managed to churn out one of the most moving and visually brilliant rap projects to land in quite some time." Rapper Talib Kweli called Asante "an incredible MC" and officially released the Buck Soundtrack on his Javotti Media record label.

Education and professorship[edit]

Asante is a graduate of The Crefeld School.[5] He studied film and literature at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, earned a BA in Africana Studies and English from Lafayette College, and an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from UCLA School of Theater Film and Television.

At 23, he joined the faculty of Morgan State University. He received tenure at 26 and is currently Associate Professor of creative writing and film in the Department of English and Language Arts.[6]

Awards & honors[edit]

  • 2015 Washington Post Bestseller List - Paperback Nonfiction #3 (Buck: A Memoir)
  • 2014 In the Margins Book Award (Buck: A Memoir)
  • 2014 Outstanding Literary Work - Autobiography finalist (Buck: A Memoir) - NAACP Image Awards
  • 2014 Feature Film Program Fellow – Sundance Institute
  • 2014 TheGrio 100 List - MSNBC The Grio
  • 2014 Alex Award finalist (Buck: A Memoir) - American Library Association
  • 2014 Washington Post Bestseller List - Paperback Nonfiction #6 (Buck: A Memoir)
  • 2013 Inspirational Memoir finalist (Buck: A Memoir) - Books for a Better Life Award
  • 2013 Best Book of 2013 (Buck: A Memoir) – Baltimore Magazine
  • 2013 Discover Great New Writers (Buck: A Memoir) - Barnes & Noble
  • 2012 Outstanding Young Writer – Middle Atlantic Writers Association
  • 2012 Best Director (The Black Candle) – Arkansas Black Film Festival
  • 2011 Best Documentary (Motherland) – Zanzibar International Film Festival
  • 2010 Board of director's Best Documentary (Motherland) – Pan African Film Festival
  • 2009 The Key to the City of Dallas, TX
  • 2009 Langston Hughes Award from the Langston Hughes Society
  • 2008 Best Documentary (The Black Candle) – Africa World Documentary Film Festival
  • 2007 Breaking the Chains Award (500 Years Later) – United Nations' UNESCO
  • 2006 Best Documentary (500 Years Later) – Bridgetown Film Festival
  • 2006 Best Int'l Documentary (500 Years Later) – Harlem Int'l Film Festival
  • 2005 Best Documentary (500 Years Later) – Pan African Film Festival
  • 2002 Jean Corrie Poetry Prize – Academy of American Poets





Selected Articles[edit]

  • "Update Our Culture, Not Just Copyright Laws" by MK Asante - New York Times (2015) [1]
  • "Music is Powerful Enough" by MK Asante - New York Times (2014) [2]
  • "Never Forget" by MK Asante - New York Times (2013) [3]
  • "Don't Believe the Hype" by MK Asante - New York Times (2012) [4]


External links[edit]