Calid Bowen is an artist, entrepreneur, graduate of the Master of Arts Management (MAM) program, and a recent addition to the Business and Entrepreneurship adjunct faculty. Calid is back on campus to share his diversity of experience as a successful performing artist, freelance digital media manager, and entrepreneur. We were able to chat with him to discuss a few of his creative projects, influences, and his new academic work.
Calid, welcome to Columbia College Chicago family. How are you adjusting to the academic life?
Thanks! It’s certainly an adjustment after being out of academia for eight years, but I’m handling it well. It kind of feels like I’m traveling back in a time machine, especially when I see staff members and other students that I went to grad school with. It’s like my personal class reunion of sorts. But just like I remembered, everyone at Columbia is super nice and passionate about what they do, which makes the adjustment much easier.
Which course are you teaching? How would you describe the course?
I’m teaching Internet and Mobile Business, which helps students get a solid understanding of what it takes to start an online business or have an online component to your business. It’s a great class for future entrepreneurs, especially in this digital age where at the bare minimum a website is required to run a successful businesses. We cover everything from revenue models, strategy, market analysis, web design principles, barriers to entry, and more.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I would describe my style as relatable. I try to lecture and present different modules to the class in a relatable way that connects with current events and is engaging for the students. I like to think of myself as a curator of information that already lives online, but also being able to deliver that information in a way that is refreshing and sparks dialogue among the students.
You are the founder and Creative Director of a company called AfroBang Worldwide. What is AfroBang, exactly, and when did you launch?
We launched AfroBang in 2016 along with the release of my first album, also entitled AfroBang. AfroBang is an agency that advocates for cultural exchanges within the African diaspora through creative and production services. We are a team of creative strategists, content creators, and media experts focused on partnering with brands to discover, create, and share original stories and experiences.
How did you get the idea to start AfroBang?
I got the idea to start AfroBang through my love for music production and growing up in a divided culture amongst Africans and African Americans. At first, I just wanted to create a sound that inspired unity by blending West African rhythms and percussion with contemporary hip hop and trap music. Then this idea became much bigger as I started sharing it with people, and understanding the larger context that cultural exchanges can play when trying to find solutions and build bridges between different communities. So that’s when the social and educational aspects of AfroBang came about.
Tell us about one of the AfroBang projects that you’re most proud of!
I’m very proud of my second album that I just released, entitled Son of Sogolon. This album took a lot out of me, as I was working full time while also trying to build AfroBang as a business, so the creative process was very much stop and go, which is hard for me as I just like to go in a cave and not come out until it’s complete. But this process gave me more confidence in my ability to create something very personal to me, while also multitasking and continuing to grow as a business man in the process.
We understand that you are an artist as well. What would you say is your inspiration to create music? How would you describe your musical style?
My inspiration comes from my family, and just growing up as a fan of hip hop. I respect the craft so much that I approach every song or beat as a fan of the culture, and I just want to contribute to it in a significant way. AfroBang is my style of music. A mash up of sounds and styles from across the diaspora, which form a new style of hip hop.