Words Beats and Life was founded as a hip-hop conference at the University of Maryland, College Park in the fall of 2000. The brainchild of Mazi Mutafa, Executive Director, WBL was developed and researched at the University of Maryland with two fellow students who wanted to continue the hip-hop conference after graduation. When the Black Student Union decided they could manage the conference without the help of alumni, Words Beats and Life was faced with the option of dissolving or moving in a new direction. More than anything, the founders wanted Words Beats and Life to be a vehicle to transform individual lives and communities through hip-hop. In 2003, WBL was officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization with 501c3 status in the District of Columbia and began developing its first program, The Urban Arts Academy.