Rapping With the Mayor: Royce “Sauce” Handy wants to make a difference through hip hop

Royce “Sauce” Handy“College in general has made me question who I am and what I can do. My specific program has made me realize that I can do something to change my community, to bring resources and to put all this knowledge to work. I’m inspired by knowing that I can use all this experience to navigate the future for my community.”

Royce “Sauce” Handy, ’18
Program: Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies
School: College of Arts and Sciences
Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas

Why did you choose UMKC?

I’m a non-traditional student, and so were my parents. I wanted to learn why my community was the way that it was but I wanted to stay local. I researched local colleges and programs that fit my interest and this was it. My wife, who is a teacher, also received her undergrad here so that made it an easier choice. We have four girls.

Why did you choose Urban Studies?

I wanted to learn how I can change impoverished areas like those I come from and why they aren’t like suburban areas. I also wanted to know more about my heritage before the trans-Atlantic slave trade, so I minored in Black Studies. Both these studies pair with what I do outside of classrooms: hip-hop and hip-hop education.
You’re becoming known in Kansas City for your music and activism. The Pitch featured you last month and you’re showing up in the mayor’s social media feeds. Tell us why hip hop is important to you.

A friend of mine and I have a hip-hop program called We Are RAP (a multi-week curriculum that includes writing lyrics and shooting a music video). We helped for five weeks with a program called Teens in Transition that we were connected to by the Kansas City No Violence Alliance (co-founded by UMKC). We performed at the finale of the program. Mayor Sly James loved it and tweeted about it and put it on Instagram.

Hip hop is a way for people to express themselves. Its roots aren’t in materialism, but in activism, in lifting up oppressed people. I’ve been rapping since I was 14, so for more than 16 years now.


Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

I’ve learned that time management is my biggest enemy. Almost everything boils down to that. I’ve learned that I am a better writer than what I thought. I have grown in ways that I wasn’t ready for when I attempted college fresh out of high school; I needed more time before I got serious. Now I’m able to evaluate myself and I’ve learned that everything is much easier when you just start doing it. Also, I’ve learned that I’m much more reserved than I thought, and I overanalyze a lot.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

To “do the readings.” Sounds simple but it is one of the most effective things. Simply doing what is prescribed, first, solves a lot. Also, one of my favorite professors told me that I don’t have to just do “one thing,” and that I can combine the various things I do—making them all work.

Who do you admire most at UMKC?

Dr. Clovis Semmes, formerly of the Black Studies department, because he has poured into my life in ways older black men never have. Whitney Terrell in Creative Writing has encouraged me in all my talents and made me believe in myself. The various women of color at UMKC inspire me every day as they navigate the many racial and gender oppressions of the world.

What’s your greatest fear?

Squandering my opportunities and not capitalizing on them to bring resources and change to my community. Failing my family and making nothing on my many interests.

What is one word that best describes you and why?

Passionate. All my life I’ve taken things “too” seriously. I’ve strived to see things through and often take people and the things they champion as serious as mine. I’m used to “making food out of nothing” like my ancestors and my passion grows out of that; the ability to maneuver out of hopeless situations.