Toni Blackman

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Toni Blackman
Also known asMiss Blackman, T-lala, Virgo One
BornPittsburg, California, U.S.
OriginSan Francisco Bay Area, California
GenresHip hop, hip hop soul, global hip hop, spoken word
Occupation(s)Rapper, lyricist, MC, freestyle MC, songwriter, record producer, poet, educator, actress, author
Years active1994–present
LabelsIndependent Ear
Associated actsFreestyle Union, Daughters of the Cipher, Hip Hop Arts Movement (HHAM), Earthdriver

Toni Blackman[1] is an American rapper (specializing in freestyle hip-hop), actress, and writer who was the first hip-hop ambassador to the U.S. State Department.[2] Additionally, she was selected as a 2006 Rhythm Road touring artist and subsequently served as on the selection committee for American Music Abroad (formerly Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rhythm Road) with American Voices.[2][3][4][5]

Life and career[edit]

The first Hip Hop Cultural Envoy to travel with the State Department, Blackman served in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Botswana and Swaziland where she also delivered lectures on hip hop music and culture.[6] Toni has also traveled throughout Europe, Angola, Brazil, Canada and toured Southeast Asia (the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan) as a part of Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rhythm Road Abroad program, working in the world's most war-torn countries to promote reconciliation and rehabilitation to those regions.[7]

Blackman was founding director of Freestyle Union, a cipher workshop which uses a free styling as a tool to promote social responsibility, was awarded two prestigious fellowships. Blackman served as a fellow with the Echoing Green Foundation and as a fellow with the Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation) through which she launched Rhyme Like A Girl formerly known as ADI. A Hip hop theater pioneer, she founded the now defunct Hip Hop Arts Movement (HHAM) while at Howard University in 1992. She has featured in the Hip Hop Theater Festival and she co-authored Hip Hop Nightmares of Jujube Brown with Psalmayene 24 as an ACT-Co presentation at ARENA Stage in Washington, DC. she is also a member of the Spoken Word Committee of the New York Chapter of the Recording Academy.[6]

Blackman has performed alongside Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Guru, The Roots, Wu Tang, the Lilith Fair, Def Poetry.[4] She performed in a host of venues including the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and at Lincoln Center in New York.

In 2009, Blackman spoke at the Pio Manzu International Conference in Rimini, Italy, and in 2010 facilitated a groundbreaking artist residency at Jefferson Arts Center with girls from Liberia, Sudan, Somalia and the U.S., spoke at Harvard University as a part of Bakari Kitwana's Rap Sessions Series collaborated on and performed a song along with Azerbaijani rap group Dayirman, dedicated to victims of Khojaly Massacre[8][9]

An interview with emcee Toni Blackman is featured in a scholarly article about girls and "bad bitches" in hip-hop online video culture written by ethnomusicologist and social media scholar Kyra Gaunt in the Journal of Popular Music Studies (2015).[10]


  1. ^ "powerhouse books announcement". Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Freestyle Cipher Workshop w/ Toni Blackman | Jefferson Center". Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  3. ^ MC & Host Toni Blackman Archived September 9, 2012, at
  4. ^ a b US Department of State. Toni Blackman: First Hip-Hop Envoy Archived March 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Africa Resource. Toni Blackman: Rap Lyricist, Vocalist and Writer
  6. ^ a b Toni Blackman. About
  7. ^ Washington Art. IT'S YOUR MUG ANNIVERSARY ISSUE. Toni Blackman
  8. ^ "Azerbaijan presented a clip dedicated to Khojaly Genocide". February 24, 2010. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  9. ^ "US singer Toni Blackman presents her music video on Khojaly tragedy". February 24, 2010. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  10. ^ Gaunt, Kyra D. (2015-01-01). "YouTube, Bad Bitches, and a M.I.C. (Mom-in-Chief): On the Digital Seduction of Black Girls in Participatory Hip-hop Spaces". In Gosa, Travis; Nielson, Erik. The Hip Hop & Obama Reader. Oxford University Press. pp. 207 ff. ISBN 9780199341818.