Nicholas Vila Byers

Prize-Winning Journalist and Impassioned Community Organizer, Wesleyan University

Location icon United States

I’m a gifted writer and zealous organizer fascinated by the intersections of community, art, and social justice. From writing nonfiction on San Francisco’s housing crisis, to leading restorative justice circles in downtown Oakland, to hosting a hip-hop radio show at Wesleyan University, my interests vary, and yet all connect to a goal of fostering community through creative media. With experiences providing direct services to clients at social service centers, writing pithy, yet reflective articles on strict deadlines, and facilitating workshops on everything from the opioid epidemic to sexual assault intervention, I can offer a multitude of skills, and a great reserve of enthusiasm to any like-minded organization. Upon graduating from a rigorous, multidisciplinary social studies program at Wesleyan University in May 2019, I look forward to exploring potential futures in music journalism, arts education, and alternatives to incarceration.

Portfolio
The Wesleyan Argus
09/20/2018
Noname, No Fame, Just Fatimah

When she first stepped onto the scene in 2016, Chicago rapper Noname (born Fatimah Warner) made her outlook on fame clear in her very first lyric: "And I know, the money don't really make me whole."

Medium
10/03/2018
"I'll Fly Away": The Overlooked Fallout of San Francisco's Tech Boom

She is clearing her throat between her screams. Raving about her sex life, or someone's lies, or the insincere apology of a fellow passenger. I look at her for a fraction of a second, averting my eyes with the rest of the bus when I notice that she's out of it.

The Wesleyan Argus
10/04/2018
The Deceptive Simplicity of Lonnie Holley's "MITH"

Lonnie Holley's artworks are often profoundly intertextual. The centerpiece of his new album "MITH," is named "I Snuck off the Slave Ship," which also titled his recent solo exhibition at the Atlanta Contemporary Museum.

The Wesleyan Argus
09/13/2018
The Deaths and Resurrections of Mac Miller: A Flawed MC Who Was Reinventing Himself Until the...

When Mac Miller came up via frat-rap anthem "Donald Trump," the story was familiar. Following the model of Vanilla Ice, Marky Mark, Eminem, and countless other white men in the rap industry, Mac seemed destined for huge commercial success via cultural appropriation. When he released his first commercial album, just like his predecessors, Mac did well.

The Wesleyan Argus
04/13/2018
CARE FOR ME Turns Mourning into Masterwork

On "LIFE," the second single from his new album CARE FOR ME, Saba offers a devastating portrait of his current existence, rapping, "That's life-Momma mixed the vodka with the Sprite / They killed my cousin with a pocket knife." A bar later he mentions his formerly-incarcerated uncle: "He got out a year and then he died."

Medium
11/29/2016
A Fragmented 49 Miles: Reevaluating San Francisco's Residential Space

I walk through the Tenderloin every couple of months when I volunteer at Glide's soup kitchen on Ellis Street. In the Tenderloin homeless men sleep under faded awnings, trans women strut the sidewalks, and mentally ill people talk to themselves. The streets smell of urine.

The Wesleyan Argus
12/01/2016
Tribe's Polemical Tribute to Phife Dawg

A Tribe Called Quest released their first album in almost 20 years, four days after the presidential election. We Got It from Here...Thank You 4 Your Service expresses a chilling paranoia regarding the state of the Western world.

The Wesleyan Argus
12/01/2016
The Knowles Sisters and Protest Music

Is it a coincidence that Solange and Beyoncé Knowles are the first siblings since Master P and Silkk da Shocker to both chart number-one albums? Perhaps not, considering Solange's use of Master P's vocals throughout her new album, A Seat at the Table .

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