The public education campaign Fresh Empire hosted an all-ages show last Saturday featuring Chicago female hip-hop artists QueenKey and Tink.
Over the past year, Fresh Empire, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first education campaign designed to prevent and reduce tobacco use among at-risk multicultural youth, has had advertisements on television, in magazines and on social media feeds. The advertisements typically have popular artists from the campaign, like Lil Yachty, performing or a group of kids doing popular internet dances.
Launched in 2015, the company targets a young hip-hop community by hosting events and promoting a tobacco free lifestyle.
Chicago’s Fresh Empire market manager Manny Treo also happens to be a popular promoter in the city and his brand PREMO has collaborated with the tobacco-free campaign, making a major contribution to the multicultural youth in Chicago. But while Treo manages the business side of PREMO, his business partner Filmon “Filly” Tekie manages their Fresh Empire high school brand ambassadors who helps plan and promote their various hip-hop events.
“We’ve been doing free monthly all-age events on behalf of Fresh Empire for over a year now,” Filly said. “And whether it be a poetry slam, trap bunch or a full out dance party they have such a huge influence on the dance culture locally and nationally.”
Last Saturday’s event was no exception. Fresh Empire hosted some of the best hip-hop entertainment for kids of all-ages.
The show started at 6 p.m. and although main acts didn’t come out for another two hours, the crowd was being hyped up the entire time by a majority of high school dancers and performers. Fresh Empire’s campaign has not only encouraged at risk youth to stay tobacco free, but also to use their platform to perform and express themselves.
Tierra Fondren and Yolanda Boyd were two of the dancers entertaining the crowd before the main acts came out. The two girls were brought onto the Fresh Empire team and now have seen some of their dreams unfold because of it.
“I knew one of the members Speedy and he really brought me into Fresh Empire,” said 17-year-old Boyd. “I switched schools and met Tierra and we ended up getting with PREMO and Fresh Empire, becoming one big happy family.”
Both from the Southside of Chicago, the girl’s weeks are packed with high school homework while their weekends are filled with performing in front of 500+ crowds.
“It was lit, I loved it and I feel like this for me,” said 18-year-old Fondren. “Every now and then you get that feeling that I have to get somewhere else because I’m not where I want to be so fast and then you actually get that opportunity to perform then you think maybe this actually is for me and what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Gearing up to graduate this summer, the girls are only beginning their careers.
“I do want to dance but I want to major in business as well,” Fondren said.
“I want to open up my own dance studio and I want kids to be able to feed off me and I want to give them an opportunity to have a second home,” Boyd said.