Find the Love
Behind the music
Alum Darrel Greene, known by fans as Jesty Beatz, is using education to propel himself to success in the rap world

By Elizabeth Boyle


Editor’s note: A new Ohio University commercial (above) features the work of a 2006 graduate of the School of Visual Communication’s Interactive Multimedia program. The song featured is “Average Rapper” from his album released in December, “Deal or No Deal.”

ATHENS, Ohio (Jan. 07, 2007) — There’s nothing average about Darrel Greene. As an undergraduate at Ohio University, he turned heads with his talent as a student in the School of Visual Communication. He worked as a resident assistant and as an aide at a facility that helps students reach their academic goals. He volunteered for two community organizations.

Known to his fans as Jesty Beatz, Darrel did all this while launching six rap albums and maintaining busy concert schedules for sold-out crowds in Athens and touring in Mexico and California. And he did it in four years, graduating with a 3.22 grade-point average. Now he is a rising star dedicated to changing his art, a rapper on a mission with a message that does not use profanity and will not degrade women or other groups.

His professors also will tell you there’s nothing average about Darrel Greene. Akil Houston, a visiting instructor in African American Studies who had Darrel in class, explains that rap has always been controversial because its history lies in social protest. “The voice of the voiceless,” he calls it. Unfortunately, he says, that means of empowerment was lost as rap evolved, and the negative messages that pervade much of today’s popular rap tend to define the entire genre. Darrel’s music is different, he says.

“Darrel has an appreciation of the history of the art form,” Houston says. “It’s really hard to move the art form forward if you don’t respect its history.”

Thanks to that appreciation, Darrel has been able to build positive messages into his music in pursuit of his goal to create a revolution in the hip hop world. He wants a “changing of the guard” in rap, he says, in which musicians and their listeners are “as true as possible without limiting themselves to whatever is in popular culture.” A song called “Average Rapper” on Darrel’s newest album is related to this theme.

“The song is saying that I’m not your average rapper. I did go to college. I graduated from college,” he says. His music isn’t “cheesy,” he says, even though it’s clean. “I can speak and articulate ideas. I’m trying to make change.”

His commitment to change surfaced as early as age 10, when Darrel began experimenting with the Casio keyboard and boom box his mom bought him. He titled his first song “No Hope with Dope.” He recorded it and distributed cassette tapes to his friends.

“Creativity helped pay the bills in the house, so my parents embraced it and didn’t look at it as a waste of time,” he says.

It’s true that Darrel’s parents, Terence, an Ohio University graphic design professor, and Greta, assistant director for academic support and outreach in the Office of University Diversity, valued creativity. Darrel credits his father as an original source of musical inspiration. He performed with the group Rhythm and Gospel, which traveled the United States and abroad in the 1990s, exposing Darrel to the life of performing and music.

While his parents always supported his musical interests, school came first. Greta and Terence moved the family from Cleveland — where Darrel grew up with his two younger sisters and brother — to Athens in 2002, the year Darrel came to Ohio University. When he got here, Darrel already had a certificate from Cuyahoga Valley Career Center for graphic design studies he completed while in high school. Later, when his growing career gave him the opportunity to tour in Mexico spring quarter of his senior year, Greta was adamant that he complete his studies first. (An independent study allowed him to do both.)

“I’m so proud of him for finishing school and following his dream of becoming a successful rapper,” says Greta.

Not surprisingly, Darrel, now 22, was a standout student as he pursued an interactive media major. He was known by his professors as a talented musician who made meaningful contributions in class. When he took Associate Professor of Music Sylvester Young’s “Music in Multicultural United States” course, he rapped for the students and helped with a lesson about hip hop subculture.

“He was a great resource for that class,” Young says. “His participation demonstrated a lot of maturity, and at the same time he respected others in the class.”

Terry Eiler, director of the School of Visual Communication and Darrel’s adviser, adds that despite his accomplishments, Darrel “doesn’t have to be the star, he can be a team player.”

Darrel was a hard worker in class, Eiler says, and obviously committed to his music career. (Darrel sold CDs around campus out of his backpack as well as in stores, and, as the demand for shows grew, he would do as many as three concerts a weekend.) “He certainly never missed a deadline and was able to keep himself balanced,” Eiler says of Darrel’s busy final quarter here.

As it turns out, the emphasis on education and creativity was key to Darrel’s career as a rapper. He developed relationships with professors such as Houston, Young and Eiler who challenged his skills and pushed him to reflect on his approach to rap. Now, as he tours Canada to promote his new album, “Deal or No Deal,” he says he remembers Ohio University as the place where he learned who he is.

“It’s where I grew up,” he says. “The academic program here prepared me for making music.”

 
How Jesty Beatz “found the love” at Ohio University
 
 
Jesty Beatz on OHIO
2006 Ohio University alum and hip-hop artist Jesty Beatz talks about why he loves OHIO.
 
 
Darrel Greene — aka Jesty Beatz — credits these programs with helping shape his experience at Ohio University and, ultimately, for helping him grow into the person he is today.

-- Darrel says the School of Visual Communication helped him find himself as an artist. Says Terry Eiler, the school’s director and Darrel’s adviser, “He had all kinds of talent — visual, graphic, creative talents. The university helped him challenge that talent, pushing it and giving it form.”

-- LINKS, a peer mentoring program that helps first-year minority students make a successful transition to college, gave Darrel a solid set of friends before his freshman year began.

-- As a resident assistant for Residence Life his sophomore and junior years, Darrel says he expanded his community and deepened his connection to campus.

-- Darrel began volunteering after about two years at Ohio University “in order to give back to a place that’s given me so much.” The Center for Community Service helps match students with volunteering opportunities. Darrel worked at the local nonprofit organizations Passion Works Studio, which supports artists with developmental disabilities, and Last Chance Corral, a rehabilitation facility for abused horses.

To learn more about the people programs that could influence your experience here, visit www.ohio.edu/students.

 
More about the 'Find the Love' commercial
 
View Slideshow
 
See the Slideshow
Enjoy a closer look at the Ohio University photos shown during the video along with some proud OHIO facts.
 
 
Jesty Beatz
Download the track Download Average Rapper Average Rapper (MP3, courtesy J.Beatz) and learn more about him at JestyBeatz.com.
 
Notice on External Links
The inclusion of links from this site does not imply endorsement by Ohio University. Ohio University makes no endorsement, express or implied, of any links to or from its site, nor is it responsible for the content or activities of any linked sites.
 
Share the Love, win a Nano
 
iPod NanoNow it’s your turn to tell us how you found the love at Ohio University

• Is there a cool prof who inspired you?

• Did you have a great class that made you think about life and the world differently? 

• Can you tell us about an OHIO tradition or even that perfect spot on campus that makes this a place like no other?

We all know our OHIO is special, but we want to hear in your words what you love about Ohio University.

Your time and ideas matter to us—so just for sharing them you’ll automatically be included in a drawing for an iPod Nano loaded with “Deal or No Deal,” the new Jesty Beatz album.

Send your story to findthelove@ohio.edu. If you have questions about the contest, please contact Ohio University Communications and Marketing at 740.593.9990.

 
 
Official Rules
1. You must be a current, registered Ohio University student.
2. To be included in the iPod Nano drawing, entries must be submitted by January 31. (It’s your story so there is no minimum or maximum word length requirement—just get it to us on time.)
3. Along with your submission, we need your name, local address, major, and phone contact info.
4. We ask that you adhere to the same values of personal conduct and academic excellence that guide you as a proud Ohio University student. Bottom line—much like Jesty’s music—your message should be free of profanity, intolerance, and discrimination and should not include subject matter that is illegal or questionable.
5. Your submissions—or parts of them—may be used in University communications. Basically, by participating, you’re telling us it’s O.K. to share your story with other folks. We also reserve the right to edit as needed.
6. Only one entry may be submitted per student.
 
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Tel: 740.593.1000
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