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M.S.I.

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About M.S.I.
Intelligent, thought provoking, multi-disciplinarian, activist, social communitarian, are a few words that scratch the surface with attempting to understand Maasai.

Stage name M.S.I, born Lester Ellis, Maasai is a former social service professional, lyricist, music producer, and owner of the A.M Muse Collab, from Chicago, IL. Growing up the eldest of six on the north side of Chicago, M.S.I’s demonstrated his love for the written word very early on in his childhood, most prominently in elementary school. The development of his literary, music and performance chops began with an infatuation with essays, prose, poems and short stories writing religiously in school and at home. M.S.I developed a passion for performance in the early 90s, performing with Helen C. Peirce International’s, African Dance Troupe with his early performances earning him the annual Drama Award, for this and other contributions. This experience sparked a passion for performance, creativity and freedom of expression that would be the catalyst for his later works.

During High school, he was often troubled by his father’s incarceration and the realities of a racist justice system. Exchanging letters with his father throughout his high-school years, Maasai began to question the war on drugs, and began taking steps to prevent his father from returning to prison. Maasai and his father would discuss, politics, racism, equity and America and it was here Maasai, developed a social conscious lean that would become the backbone of his material again writing scripts, prose, poetry, and stories religiously.


During his freshman year of High-School Maasai, wrote a short story on gun violence for an English class presentation. He brought starter pistols to use as props in the presentation but was caught and prohibited when a classmate brandished the pistols in the school auditorium. Nearly expelled for this incident, and questioning the inner workings of society, Maasai began incorporating his personal troubles, the realities of his father's imprisonment, and other personal/social connections into his writings.

Loose Squares, one of Maasai’s first spoken word performances, depicts the reality of ex-convicts attempting to re acclimate to society, while facing barriers to employment, many times selling cigarettes as a means of income. Attending college, Maasai dug deeper into the justice system, and eventually won Southern Illinois University’s R.E.A.C.H (Research Enriched Academic Challenge Award), looking into the realities of the systems structure, presenting his research regionally, as well as performing his writings for audiences across the nation.

After graduating from SIUC, Maasai moved back to Chicago, and continued work to keep his father, a recidivist, out of prison. He began working with the North Lawndale Employment Networks Social Enterprise known as ‘Sweet Beginnings’, a social enterprise aimed at reducing recidivism.

This time became the backbone of what would be a three part Hip-Hop album, his ‘Death of a Universe’ series, recounting his experiences through music performance, and writing.

Through associates met while at the North Lawndale Employment Network, he partnered with members of Blue 1647, a Black Owned business incubator then focused on building education and technology innovation platforms that foster economic development in technology and 21st Century skills through workforce development, and Business Acceleration.

As a beacon of resource, Maasai has developing workshops on Anti-Violence, mentoring various media projects with the Chicago Public Schools, Community Colleges of Chicago, Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, and other organizations in Chicago’s non-profit and private sectors.

Currently, Maasai is owner of A.M Muse Collab, a publishing, performance, and production company in the style of his acumen. He is a member of the Evanston Art’s Council, and Curator for Social Change, a national non-profit committed to liberation uplifting community voice and disrupting systems through storytelling, organizing and activism.
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Genres:
Edm, Electronica, Hip Hop
Hometown:
Chicago, Illinois

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About M.S.I.
Intelligent, thought provoking, multi-disciplinarian, activist, social communitarian, are a few words that scratch the surface with attempting to understand Maasai.

Stage name M.S.I, born Lester Ellis, Maasai is a former social service professional, lyricist, music producer, and owner of the A.M Muse Collab, from Chicago, IL. Growing up the eldest of six on the north side of Chicago, M.S.I’s demonstrated his love for the written word very early on in his childhood, most prominently in elementary school. The development of his literary, music and performance chops began with an infatuation with essays, prose, poems and short stories writing religiously in school and at home. M.S.I developed a passion for performance in the early 90s, performing with Helen C. Peirce International’s, African Dance Troupe with his early performances earning him the annual Drama Award, for this and other contributions. This experience sparked a passion for performance, creativity and freedom of expression that would be the catalyst for his later works.

During High school, he was often troubled by his father’s incarceration and the realities of a racist justice system. Exchanging letters with his father throughout his high-school years, Maasai began to question the war on drugs, and began taking steps to prevent his father from returning to prison. Maasai and his father would discuss, politics, racism, equity and America and it was here Maasai, developed a social conscious lean that would become the backbone of his material again writing scripts, prose, poetry, and stories religiously.


During his freshman year of High-School Maasai, wrote a short story on gun violence for an English class presentation. He brought starter pistols to use as props in the presentation but was caught and prohibited when a classmate brandished the pistols in the school auditorium. Nearly expelled for this incident, and questioning the inner workings of society, Maasai began incorporating his personal troubles, the realities of his father's imprisonment, and other personal/social connections into his writings.

Loose Squares, one of Maasai’s first spoken word performances, depicts the reality of ex-convicts attempting to re acclimate to society, while facing barriers to employment, many times selling cigarettes as a means of income. Attending college, Maasai dug deeper into the justice system, and eventually won Southern Illinois University’s R.E.A.C.H (Research Enriched Academic Challenge Award), looking into the realities of the systems structure, presenting his research regionally, as well as performing his writings for audiences across the nation.

After graduating from SIUC, Maasai moved back to Chicago, and continued work to keep his father, a recidivist, out of prison. He began working with the North Lawndale Employment Networks Social Enterprise known as ‘Sweet Beginnings’, a social enterprise aimed at reducing recidivism.

This time became the backbone of what would be a three part Hip-Hop album, his ‘Death of a Universe’ series, recounting his experiences through music performance, and writing.

Through associates met while at the North Lawndale Employment Network, he partnered with members of Blue 1647, a Black Owned business incubator then focused on building education and technology innovation platforms that foster economic development in technology and 21st Century skills through workforce development, and Business Acceleration.

As a beacon of resource, Maasai has developing workshops on Anti-Violence, mentoring various media projects with the Chicago Public Schools, Community Colleges of Chicago, Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, and other organizations in Chicago’s non-profit and private sectors.

Currently, Maasai is owner of A.M Muse Collab, a publishing, performance, and production company in the style of his acumen. He is a member of the Evanston Art’s Council, and Curator for Social Change, a national non-profit committed to liberation uplifting community voice and disrupting systems through storytelling, organizing and activism.
Read More
Genres:
Edm, Electronica, Hip Hop
Hometown:
Chicago, Illinois

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