From stage to classroom, Steph Simon makes waves for others to ride
Black Wall Street hip-hop artist and change agent Steph Simon seated on the throne of an iconic tan peacock wicker rotten chair in the foyer of the former Brady Mansion now owned by former Dallas Cowboy running back Felix Jones. | Photo By Ryan Cass
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By Tosh Owens

Fans from all around Tulsa were eager as they gathered in the Historic Greenwood District, anticipating artists from the hip-hop collective Fire in Little Africa (FILA) as they prepared to take over the stage during the second annual Black Wall Street Legacy Fest at the end of May.

As the Cherry-flavored snow cones dripped down from children’s mouths, their parents fanned their faces using whatever was in their reach to stay cool. As the host began to announce the hip-hop group, fans grew anxious. 

The music glaring, the crowd staring, and blazing heat was just the beginning of what was about to take place during the Black Wall Street Legacy Fest. Fire in Little Africa was about to set the stage ablaze with hits from their album.  

Artists from the Oklahoma hip-hop collective Fire in Little Africa perform at the first annual Black Wall Street Legacy Fest on May 29, 2021. (The Black Wall Street Times)

What is Fire in Little Africa

Fire in Little Africa is a conglomerate of Oklahoma rappers, singers, musicians, and visual artists that came together to pay homage to the centennial of the 1921 Massacre and showcase Tulsa’s hip-hop culture around the world. Fire in Little Africa is also a hip-hop album, podcast, educational curriculum and documentary. Moreover, FILA is a multimedia project that gave the artist the platform to show the world why Tulsa is the secret sauce of Hip-Hop.

Who is Steph Simon 

Steph Simon is one of the first artists introduced to the project by Dr. View. As an executive team member, Steph has been a major key player in the project. He has helped recruit artists and make sure the energy generated from the album continues to thrive. His music has been instrumental to Tulsa as he is rewriting the story of a positive Tulsa community. 

As Steph Simon took the stage, his story, creativity, and voice followed him.

“This performance is unique because it’s not just me. It represents the collective of FILA, showcasing talent all over Tulsa,” artist and producer Steph Simon told The Black Wall Street Times.

“This is our one-year aftermath performance of when the album came out. For many of us, this is the first time we’ve been together since the last time we have performed. We’ve learned so much, and we aren’t the same; it will be nice to see everyone’s progression.” 

Fire in Little Africa performs Jazz in Little Africa
Still of Steph Simon from Fire in Little Africa ‘Shining’ music video, filmed at LowDown
Still of Steph Simon from Fire in Little Africa ‘Shining’ music video, filmed at LowDown

What is Black Wall Streets Impact on Culture

The crowd was swaying back and forth at this instant, clapping their hands as each artist blazed a trail across the stage. As I took a look around, I couldn’t help but notice every brown face smiling, cheering, and some even dancing. It was then that I realized how much unity being on Black Wall Street brought to our community. 

“It [Black Wall Street] is important to us because it’s like a religion. Black people take care of each better because we have a sense of what we think it used to be. We support a little more here. It’s in our spirit and soul,” Steph Simon said. “It was only 100 years ago, and that isn’t long ago. It [Black Wall Street] gives you a north side pride. It governs how you carry yourself amongst society amongst Black Tulsa. 

At this time, the performance has ended, and the crowd is giving FILA a standing ovation. Clapping, shouting, and chanting, the Tulsa community was not disappointed by the entertainment they had seen. At this point, the crowd’s energy was giving “They wanted an encore”.

“Tulsa music deserves to get outside of Tulsa. We have the secret sauce of what the world needs.”” Steph Simon said. “[My hope is that FILA] continues to be a platform that catapults artists into the next level. [With] more music and more artist, we will expand and continue to unmask with our message. 

Artist from Fire in Little Africa record a historic album in March 2020. (Documentary trailer screenshot)

What is Steph Simon Doing For Tulsa’s Community 

Given that Steph Simon plays a significant role in FILA, he takes his leadership in the community very seriously. Steph has opened doors for the Tulsa community of entrepreneurs to come and participate during a vendor’s market at the Skyline Mansion. “It’s a space for creativity and failure. If you are building a business or interested in starting one, you have the opportunity to try,” Steph Simon said. 

Simon not only curates events for adults, but he is also instrumental in creating media opportunities for McLain High School Students. One day he was at work sitting in the back of a van when the administrative staff of McLain High School called him asking a question that would change the trajectory of students’ lives.

“When I was there, and I needed a studio. I was writing music in the back of the classroom,” Steph said. “I asked them if I could put a studio in there, and I’ll raise money to put students’ music on platforms and even write a curriculum to teach music production.”

In August 2022, you can expect to see Steph Simon’s music production project commence at McLain High School. The program will be open to all grade levels and 8 students that can maintain a C+ grade point average. 

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...

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