ANJPR is celebrating this year’s Black Music Month by featuring DMV artists and musicians making their mark on the music industry. Today, we are highlighting Lemond Brown, the inspirational hip-hop artist better known as IMAG. IMAG is a native Washingtonian, inspired by gogo artists such as Chuck Brown, EU and Rare Essence. Artists including the Wutang Clan, James Brown and Erykah Badu have also impacted his music style growing up.
IMAG has been doing music for as long as he can remember, but he began his professional music career when he attended college at Drexel University. He has been intentional about creating music with a message. “All the music we make is soul music. We like to call it the Millennial Soul Movement...You can play it anywhere with any type of audience because the message is relevant. I like for people to be able to get something...to learn something new or feel empowered.”
Along with being an inspirational artist, IMAG is also a philanthropist. He founded the Swaliga Foundation after graduating from Drexel University with his Architectural Engineering degree. The Swaliga Foundation is an organization supporting youth by combining STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with the arts. The Swaliga team established this STEAM-centered curriculum as a tool to empower the youth they committed to serving.
He decided to utilize the arts to empower youth because of how impactful it was in his own upbringing. He states, “Swaliga is a tribal word that actually means passion. Just understanding how passion can make the difference between somebody actually taking it a little more serious...the arts is just the most powerful tool we have, particularly in the black community for us to level the playing field.”
Make sure to be on the lookout for IMAG’s most recent project, Small Town Heroes. IMAG will be releasing his newest project "Blast Off" scheduled to release Fall 2019. The project is inspired by STEAM with futuristic hip-hop, funk and soul vibes. "My purpose is to make music for the students, this project is for them," stated IMAG. To learn how to join the Swaliga Tribe, make sure to visit their website and pledge to help host seven South African students here in Washington, D.C. Keep up with IMAG and the Swaliga Foundation by following them on Instagram - @imagmusic and @tribeswaliga.