A Hip-Hop Anthem for Civic Engagement Amps Things Up

“What Do We Have To Lose?”, a collaboration between The Philosopher’s Stone and Big Bowl of Ideas, the song was inspired by the rampant, hate-filled rhetoric of a certain candidate for President. In particular, it was completely designed to be a wake-up call to young people of color who may be ambivalent about the race, the candidates or what’s at stake.

What Do We Have To Lose? from Big Bowl of Ideas on Vimeo.

The song, written and performed by Gabriel ‘Asheru’ Benn and Wayna, together known as The Philosopher’s Stone, came together rather quickly. Wyatt Closs, Principal of Big Bowl of Ideas, known for various adventures mixing culture and causes, placed a call to Asheru. They talked about the election season, being worried about young black peoples’ cynicism at times, went over some key messages to get across to motivate.

The timing was perfect as Asheru was on his way to a studio days later, working on a new album for The Philosopher’s Stone. ‘Yeah, when I went to the studio and talked to everybody about it, the whole thing came together naturally. We were highly motivated. And when (producer/need name) laid down this track, we just flowed from there.”

After the song was made, inspiration came further in the form of Asheru and Wayna and a group of friends deciding to go watch the first Presidential debate at the new Trump Hotel in DC and record the experience. “Man, you should have seen the looks we got. It was a surreal moment,” said Asheru. Big Bowl of Ideas worked with the footage and art work by visual artists and archival footage to make the video.

While Asheru and Closs have known each other for years in the DC underground cultural scenes, this is the first time they have collaborated on a project together.

That’s what it made it cool also,” said Closs. “All this time we’ve been peeping each other’s work for like 15 years and finally something inspired us into action. I guess we can thank a certain billionaire for that.”

The video was nominated for a Reed Award for Best Web Video For Public Affairs Campaign Or Issue Advocacy.

Special thanks to Sierra Club for making this possible and the good folks at New Media Firm for helping to push out.


Song written and performed by Gabriel ‘Asheru’ Benn, Wayna, and Roddy Rod.

Recorded and Mixed by Awthentik for AllorNothing.work

Video footage shot by Everett Richardson
For Straight No Chaser/Guerilla Arts Ink

Video produced by Big Bowl of Ideas
Executive Producer: Wyatt Closs
Editor: Jon Sautter

Visual Art by Sheila Pree Bright, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, and Ben Arnon

HEAR THE FULL SONG ON soundcloud.com/the-philosophers-stone-814607685

Body of Work