An 11-year-old Tacoma rap artist is fostering community in an unusual way – he shot a music video with Tacoma police.
Xola Malik, an African American father, and his son Mattias Malik, an artist who goes by the stage name of Kendi Fresh, started with an idea.
“We were thinking one day, and we should start this cool lean challenge,” said Kendi Fresh.
He made up a catchy rap song called “Lean” along with a lean dance.
But the dance wasn’t just meant for him and his friends. He teamed up with the Tacoma Police Department to record a music video outside of Tacoma Police Headquarters Tuesday evening.
"I want to portray an image that I'm not a gangster or thug,” Kendi Fresh said. “I just want to be a normal kid.”
His father said this was a great opportunity for his son to learn a lesson about building positive relationships.
"I think maybe we can find some common ground. We may not agree on every issue, but we all like to dance, and we all like to have a good time. Maybe we’ll see police in a different way and maybe they’ll see us in a different way and some of these barriers can be broken down,” said Malik.
To break down the barriers, police officer Kelly Custis said she was excited to learned the steps of the lean challenge.
“It’s actually a lot of fun, and it's a way to bridge that gap between us and the community and kind of have those positive vibes between all of us. I think it’s good to have kids realize that they can come and talk to us,” she said.
The goal is to set an example on how to develop mutual respect and build relationships that can last.
"I think we owe it to our next generation to show them the right way and show them honor, respect, and how to be positive,” said Malik. “I think it's vitally important that the community understand that there are good parents out here that are trying to do the right thing. “
Another goal is to get the video to go viral by challenging other police departments in the area.
“I hope other police departments get on board with it too and they join in on the challenge,” said Custis. “They can't compete with us obviously, but hopefully they'll give it a try.”