For Black History Month, the AFRO presents a series of articles highlighting important community heroes. This week we sit with Ramone Messam, who helps young people in Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Howard County fulfill their musical dreams.
Born and raised in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, Ramone Messam and his brother, Andrew, knew that their passion was the music and entertainment industry. But once they realized that the young talents surrounding them were in dire need of assistance, they changed their focus.
Ramone, along with Andrew, started the Kno-Effort music and production company, which has grown to five employees over the past several years.
It all started with their desire to present immaculate visuals that would benefit their up and coming music careers. Their first effort as musicians was a song called “Kno-Effort” that Andrew wrote and recorded in the studio.
“When a person is multi-talented, you become invincible to the point when everything you do is with no effort,” said Ramone in explaining the title.
Where Kno-Effort stands out from other production companies is in their support of young people of color who have a dream they want to fulfill.
“The first thing is, unity,” said Ramone. “The people who actually have the power to give back they don’t necessarily help out. I’m not saying everybody but the majority. If people would do that more a lot of the artists would be better off. Some of the people who do have the power they’re looking to sell a dream to an artist. Their looking for the money rather than helping out. One of the things that we wanted to do as a company is helping out up and coming talent and we will never sell dreams. Those are the rules we abide by.”
It began three years ago when the company began uploading cyphers, or groups of young people rapping, that garnered 100,000 views on YouTube. With titles like “P.G County” and “Montgomery County Cypher,” the videos offered insight into what it was like to grow up in the District, Maryland and Virgina. The success led the team to focus primarily on high school students and their dreams to make it in the music business.
Two years later, the “High School Cypher” was born, which focused on the Prince George’s County and Montgomery County high school students. Kno-Effort worked with students at their individual high schools to create music videos to publicize their rapping, singing, dancing and other talents to tell a story in an educational environment.
The “High School Cypher” has over 100,000 views on YouTube, catching the attention of students from all-across the Maryland and D.C area. The video has been cited by several mainstream hip-hop publications and radio stations.
“We feel like we’re definitely helping all the up and coming local talent,” said Ramone. “By giving them a platform to voice their opinion, whether that be school, politics or something else. If high-schoolers see other high-schoolers rapping about something positive it’s going to influence them to be a part of the whole project that we’re doing. We’re making a positive impact by showing that its cool to rap about school, it’s cool to see your mother is happy to see you graduate.”
Also, Ramone makes sure everything is G-rated. “There’s more of a challenge for the cyphers,” said Messam. “It’s easy to talk about money, drugs, cars, guns a lot of things you don’t have, but it’s hard to rap about school and positivity, because a lot of them take that challenge and turn into a hot verse.”
Ramone and his team are also focused on the future. “We’re working on a “bike life” documentary and we’re going to be working on our female cypher that’s going to be catered to fashion, so we have a lot on our hands right now,” he said.
For more information go to knoeffort.com.
To read all the articles in the AFRO’s Black History Month series go to afro.com/section/hallowed-grounds