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Meet Edwin Johnson of CHORDS Hip-Hop Shop in San Bernardino

Today we’d like to introduce you to Edwin Johnson.

Edwin, before we jump into specific questions about your organization, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up a homeless teen in the streets of San Bernardino. As a youth, I got into trouble because I was gang-affiliated, I even started to dabble in the selling of drugs. Growing up we didn’t have much money and my father and mother were split. My dad went to prison when I was 15 years old and is currently serving a 121-year term. Growing up we didn’t have much food at home so my mother would make me attend an afterschool program to eat food, oftentimes we would eat dumpster-dived food.

My mother had a history of being with abusive men so she often would date men who were like this. My dad was abusive to her and myself so I would see him beat her until she was bloody he did this to all his women. I saw these symptoms in men that my mother chose and one day I chose to protect her from a man like this and what happens is that I had to apologize from trying to protect her from him. I reused to apologize so she kicked me out and I had to sleep on the streets and at friends’ houses at the age of 16. Being homeless and meeting my mentors inspired me to do what I do today. I started working with youth at this afterschool program in San Bernardino and this began the journey of my purpose.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I endured a homeless as a youth and faced many different struggles growing up, I was molested and my family struggled financially to make ends meet. Many times we had to live with family members or in hotels. It was a challenge to deal with all the traumatic life experiences and still try and make away and become the man who I am today. With so man unresolved issues I endured it led to me act out as a teen and early adult years, this was some of the obstacles I faced growing up.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the CHORDS Hip-Hop Shop story. Tell us more about your organization.
CHORDS Hip-Hop Shop is a program for youth by youth in the community that gives them an enrichment tool to express themselves through the arts. Youth in the program have the opportunity to talk about real-life situations through our creative writing process using hip-hop and R&B as a tool to help them understand and reflect on tragic situations in their lives and work their way through it by expressing or recording it, in our state of the art studio.

Youth learn about the power of self-reflection while learning a technical trade that can be applied in the present life also in the future. Students in the program get to perform in front of their peers and the community. CHORDS was featured on Kcal 9 news as a great intervention program to violence in our city. All youth in the program have the opportunity to record music and music videos. We are a program that only allows youth to use clean music and positive uplifting content. Although we allow them to reflect on their life whether it was suicide attempt or a loved one murder, we allow them to reflect on those things but we teach them how to say it to where it is healing and not offending. Recently we partnered with CEEM and the La COunty fair and our students had the stage for two hours to show their gifts and talents in front of thousands of people.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck has nothing to do with this program this was a vision that was given to me by GOD and its purpose-driven, so I would say its been more of blessing rather than luck


  • CHORDS Youth development classes at our studio- $50 per month 2 session per month
  • Student performances – $500 per hour -up to 5 professional youth performers

Contact Info:

  • Address: 323 W. 7th Street Ste.A
    San Bernardino Ca 92401
  • Website:
  • Phone: 9097230480
  • Email:
  • Instagram: chords_king
  • Facebook:
  • Twitter: chordseyp1

Image Credit:

Micah Escamilla

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