As with many things in life, the collaboration of Righteous Minds was a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
Kamari Brown, a 2012 Camas High School graduate and rapper, was hanging out at a local beach in the summer of 2013 with some friends, listening to music and goofing off. That’s when they heard Caleb John-Mormon of Camas rapping.
Both he and Alastair Graham, a fellow CHS grad, knew John-Mormon as the “kid in school who did back flips and magic tricks,” but they didn’t run in the same circles.
“We started talking to him, and found out more about his music, then introduced him to everyone,” Brown said.
Soon, the group of friends began creating their own brand of music, which they refer to as “conscious hip hop.”
“The whole process was very organic.” Brown said.
Two years later, the group, now called Righteous Minds, is preparing to launch a six state, 16 city tour.
“I think this opportunity is huge for us,” said Graham, the group’s manager. “I’m really excited and hope to leverage this opportunity into raising community awareness. With this, I hope to create a strong positive brand for our label, Righteous Minds Records, of which I am the president.”
Righteous Minds is the coming together of Brown, who goes by the stage name of Myke L., and the group Tribe Lovinditekai, who include John-Mormon (Khaelo De), 2011 CHS graduate Dobilas Zalpys (Dob) and Ryan Toombs (Sunray Toombsy).
The group will tour in cities including Portland, Eugene, Pendleton, Bend, Seattle, Pasco, Bellingham, Boise, Reno, Las Vegas, Sacramento, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles and Phoenix.
They will be touring with Portland hip hop artist Dubz and Packard Browne. According to Graham, the two have performed with major label artists such as T-Pain and E-40.
Currently, the group is in the midst of a fundraising campaign for its upcoming tour.
Graham estimates that it will cost between $4,500 to $6,000. The Puffin Caf? in Washougal, where Zalpys works, is letting them use their van.
“With the support of the people and local businesses of the community, we can and will utilize any sponsorship deals to overcome our financial obstacles,” Graham said.
Brown describes Righteous Minds music as “authentic, dynamic and soulful.”
“It is naked and unfiltered,” he said. “All of us are lyricists and we all rap.”
John-Mormon also sings and is learning to play the guitar.
“We are very interested in making music with substance,” he said. “It is cultivated by all of us.”
Being on stage won’t be anything new for these hip hop artists. They have done multiple shows at various Portland locations, and were a semifinalist group at the Experience Music Project Museum’s Sound Off! competition earlier this year.
Brown noted that preparing to go on tour involves many logistics beyond just being prepared for the stage.
“There is a lot of the business side to it, which we are trying to figure out,” he said. “It takes money to make money.”
For now, the group is practicing five days a week for five hours to prepare for the tour.
“Even though we are an opening group, we are treating this tour as our own,” Brown said.
“We don’t want to rely on anyone else’s promises and want to see what the tour life has to offer.”
Now that the tour is just a month away, members of the group are focusing their energies on the upcoming shows, and hoping they will do Camas proud.
“I am really excited for the experience,” John-Mormon said. “Writing music is one thing, but when you get on stage and perform, it’s different. I want to make great music and develop myself as an artist.”
Brown is looking forward to spreading Righteous Minds’ message of positivity and social change.
“I want people to see who we are,” he said. “For a while, we didn’t have an identity. Now that we have figured it out, we are eager to let people know. I can’t wait to get up on stage and have an impact. “
Noted Toombs, a 2011 Mountain View High School graduate, “I am definitely looking forward to the experience, meeting new people and getting out with our own sound. Getting our message out there is what we have been waiting for.”