An approach to “Lyrical Analysis” in the classroom to avoid “Drowning” in controversy

The link below is to a story about a middle school music teacher who was suspended for administering a homework assignment to his 6th grade students to rewrite Kodak Black’s verse from the song “Drowning” in order to make the lyrics positive.

http://www.xxlmag.com/video/2017/09/teacher-suspended-assignment-kodak-black-lyrics/

Here are 5 points to think about and consider when integrating lyrics into your classroom activities

  1. Develop criteria for what is “Thought Provoking” when listening to music. In teaching with lyrics for over 20 years, some lyrics that resonate as positive to some students can be viewed as being so negative to a teacher or parent that they find the lyrics repulsive.  You can look at Blooms Taxonomy of higher order thinking and strive to use lyrics that creatively analyze a subject in a way that you can foster a dialogue to get your students thinking about the issue being addressed and the manner that the artist addressed the issue in their lyrics.
  2. Understand the difference between “listening” and “hearing.” Many adults will hear profanity and not take the time and energy to listen to the possible context or message that lies beneath.  Many students will hear the beat, the hook and delivery and not pay attention enough to listen and evaluate the lyrics in the verse.  As an Educator you have to listen and be able to speak to varied audiences to help them to listen to the lyrics as well if you want to use them in your class.
  3. Understand the content of the lyrics you are introducing to your class.  Many school districts send information home about their sexual education curriculum and provide the parents an opportunity to select whether they want their students to participate.  With this in mind, be careful of using songs that contain blatant over sexualized or violent lyrics in your classroom without being able to explain the lyrics to your students and create a “teachable moment” with your students to discuss the social commentary within the lyrics.
  4. Selecting a Hip-Hop song solely based on its popularity isn’t prudent. As Educators we teach our students to evaluate the credibility of the source of the information when doing research and or reading media.  This premise must be applied when identifying songs for the classroom solely because they are constantly on the radio, have thousands if not millions of views on YouTube or you hear your students singing the hook at various times in class or in the hallways at school.  Make sure you have a reason for selecting a song that will resonate with your students and the various stake holders inside and outside of the school walls.
  5. Context is everything: There are several questions that you should ask yourself as you plan to introduce a Hip-Hop song into your class.  Here are a few of them; what are you attempting to achieve through the inclusion of the music? Are you seeking to develop and or enhance a student’s cognitive or non-cognitive skills?  What is your classroom environment? What subject do you teach and does the song align?

Hip-Hop music and pedagogy can be powerful additions to your curriculum and the learning experiences of your students but they must be integrated in a manner that takes into consideration the concerns that many people have with the content and messages contained in a lot of the music they hear or the videos they see.  Hip-Hop is a science that must be studied to understand it as a culture and as curriculum tool.  You can increase your Hip-Hop competencies by engaging with #HipHopEd on twitter every Tuesday from 9-10 pm EST, by following @TheRealHipHopEd and reaching to www.hiphoped.com

Timothy Jones is an educator, writer, Hip-Hop pundit and the Chief Visionary Officer of #HipHopEd.  Follow Timothy @tdj6899

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A Lyrics and Scriptures Analysis of “Kill Jay-Z” – by Timothy Jones

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I’ve been listening and talking about Jay-Z’s latest album 4:44 for a few days now and with so many thoughts swirling in my head I was unsure where to begin in expressing my views on the album and its subject matter.  I am a lot of things but most important to me is who I am in the eyes of God and that is a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I then figured why not begin where Jay begins with the first track of the album, “Kill Jay-Z.”   “Lyrics and Scriptures” is an approach to developing and enhancing one’s “spiritual media literacy” through the analysis, evaluation and subsequent discussions where lyrics from songs are aligned with scriptures from the bible based on themes and or direct quotes.

You can find the lyrics and explanations for “Kill Jay-Z” here https://genius.com/12250494

The simple premise of the song is a reflection on the war that takes place within us as we go through and begin to have shift in perspectives and values.  Here are five scriptures that come to mind when listening to “Kill Jay-Z” along with the lyrics from the song that align with the scripture that can be meditated upon as you go through your own war of growing up and becoming more aware of what is important and lasting in your life.

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Kill Jay Z, they’ll never love you. You’ll never be enough, let’s just keep it real, Jay Z

  • The result off asking Christ into your heart and to be your Lord and Savior is the death of the sinful you that existed in darkness because you hadn’t been introduced to the marvelous light of Jesus Christ. The new creation based on the song would be Sean Carter and the old things that need to pass away are the thoughts, actions and sins of Jay-Z.
  1. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Cry Jay-Z we know the pain is real. But you can’t heal what you never reveal

  • Jay-Z speaks about his past transgressions in this song just as we should confess our sins to God believing that He will not only forgive us of our sins but cleanse us so that we don’t return to our sinful ways. We cannot be righteous within our natural selves because the self-serving desires of our flesh are too strong.
  1. Luke 6:42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

But this f&^% everybody attitude ain’t natural. But you ain’t a saint this isn’t kumbaye

  • The flow of “Kill Jay-Z” Jay-Z addresses some of his issues before commenting on his brother Kanye West. For us to see our brother’s actions clearly to bring correction in love we must judge and seek correction for our own actions first.
  1. Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Let go your ego over your right shoulder. Your left is sayin’, “Finish your breakfast

  • Jay-Z speaks about having a sense of good and evil over his right and left shoulder. This is a portrayal of the battle that we must fight and the fight is not with people it is a spiritual battle that the scriptures explain throughout Ephesians 6 how we ought to fight.
  1. Proverbs 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother;

But you gotta do better boy, you owe it to Blue

What up Jay-Z? You know you owe the truth to all the youth that fell in love with Jay-Z

  • One the main reasons for killing Jay-Z is the notion that Sean Carter is the better father for his daughter Blue. Jay-Z speaks about telling the truth to the youth that fell in love with Jay-Z.  Throughout the rest of the album there are references to his role as a father and husband.  This scripture is the beginning of instructions to us to shun evil counsel.  The lyrics expressed throughout the career of Jay-Z can be looked upon as being filled with evil counsel to the youth that he must now admit for their benefit.

 

Be on the lookout for more writings based on “4:44” and other works by Timothy Jones.  If you would like more information about “Lyrics and Scriptures” and or “HipHopEd” please contact Timothy Jones on Twitter @tdj6899 or via email at timothydaivdjones@gmail.com

 

 

Lyrics & Scriptures: Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Below are a series of quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that I assigned to the teenagers at my church.  The assignment was for them to search the scriptures and select ones that they believe align with the sentiments being expressed by Dr. King.  One reason that this activity was given to the teenagers at my church was to remind them that Dr. King was a minister of the gospel and therefore his work and words are rooted in the works and words encompassed in the Bible.  I decided to complete the assignment on MLK day and post it for others to be able to learn more about the man and the scriptures that under-girded his work and words.  The selecting of scriptures is not based on a premise of being absolutely right or wrong but being able to present a logic that connects the quote and scripture(s) that presents a consistent stream of consciousness.  This critical thinking skill is key for our young people to develop and exercise as they go through the psycho-social stage of “Identity vs. Identity Confusion.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote Related and or Supported Scripture
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Philippians 2:14-15  Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. 2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial. Matthew 25: 35-40 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him. 1 John 2:11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

1 John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive. Colossians 3:12-17 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. Proverbs 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes; But the Lord weighs the hearts.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Willie Lynch/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr/Kendrick Lamar/Rapsody & U: “Complexion”

The following is an activity from a 5 song Hip-Hop youth development curriculum that was developed in 2015 by Timothy Jones, CVO #HipHopEd @tdj6899

Healthy Connections: (S) 101 “Beat 2 the Rhyme” Creative Writing for Youth Development
This workshop will introduce concepts based on the 12 Youth Development Outcomes (6 ability and 6 identity) and the 5th stage of development for adolescence (12 to 18 years) according to Erickson’s Stages of Development. The analysis and evaluation of the lyrics along with the creative writing assignments will allow the students to opportunities to reflect on how they see themselves according to youth outcome and component of development that is highlighted in the song. The creative writing and critical thinking assignments will focus on the following:
– Identity
– Social Interactions/Peer Groups
– Moral/Ethic Issues
– Moratorium
– Philosophy of Life
– Various Youth Development Outcomes

Song: Complexion (Kendrick Lamar)

Youth Development Outcome: Self-Worth/Intellectual Ability

Stage 5: Identity (Internal/External)

Sound Check: Write down three jokes that you have either said or have heard said about the color of someone’s skin. Do not write a person’s name into the jokes. Have a select group of students read the jokes that they have written down. Keep a tally as to whether the joke is directed towards dark or light skin. Keep a tally of the complexion the student that is saying the joke. After the sample has read their jokes ask the students to count up the jokes that they wrote down that are directed towards dark and light skin. Get the responses and create a class total of the number of total jokes and the number of dark and light skin jokes. Hold this data for a discussion at another time in the activity.

Introduction: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. – Dr. Martin Luther King” This is a quote from the “I Have a Dream Speech” made on August 28, 1963. When Dr. King referred to “a nation” what type of people do you think he was predominately talking to? Who would be the predominate group of people this quote would be speaking to if the word nation was changed to community? Is the impact on your sense of identity and self-worth the same in both quotes if you believe they are predominately speaking to different groups of people? It is almost 52 years later and Kendrick Lamar believes that the issues and challenges surrounding complexion are alive and impacting the way we see one another and ourselves. The song sheds light on a theory of where these issues began and alludes to strategies and ways of thinking that are needed to rid ourselves of these issues surrounding complexion once and for all. Do you think we will ever live in a nation or community where we don’t cast some level of judgement based on complexion? This song features a woman name Rapsody who would be viewed as a dark skin woman, do you think this holds any significance given how we as a society and community view complexion? Always ask if there are any questions or comments. You may modify the questions for discussion within the introduction for a middle school audience by focusing on school, community and what they watch on television.

Performance: Pass out the lyrics to “Complexion” and then play the song. Have the students read along as the song is playing so that you know that they are paying attention because they will keep time with the song.

Lyrics of Emphasis:
– Even if master listenin’, cover your ears, he ’bout to mention
– Let the Willie Lynch theory reverse a million times with…
– Light don’t mean you smart, bein’ dark don’t make you stupid
– Call your brothers magnificent, call all the sisters queens

Students should choose 3 of the 4 lyrics and write (3) sentences that explain what is being said by each lyric. For middle school students you may want to talk one lyric out together and have the students select two of the remaining three lyrics for this exercise

Lyrical Exercise:
“In my bag, I have a fool proof method for controlling your slaves. I guarantee every one of you that if installed it will control the slaves for at least three hundred years. My method is simple, any member of your family or any OVERSEER can use it.
I have outlined a number of differences among the slaves, and I take these differences and make them bigger. I use FEAR, DISTRUST, and ENVY for control purposes. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies, and it will work throughout the SOUTH. Take this simple little list of differences and think about them. On the top of my list is “AGE” but it is only there because it starts with an “A”; The second is “COLOR” or shade; there is INTELLIGENCE, SIZE, SEX, SIZE OF PLANTATION, ATTITUDE of owner, whether the slaves live in the valley, on a hill, east or west, north, south, have fine or coarse hair, or is tall or short. Now that you have a list of differences, I shall give you an outline of action- but before that, I shall assure you that DISTRUST IS STRONGER THAN TRUST, AND ENVY IS STRONGER THAN ADULATION, RESPECT OR ADMIRATION.
The black slave, after receiving this indoctrination, shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands.
Don’t forget you must pitch the old black VS. the young black males, and the young black male against the old black male. You must use the dark skinned slaves VS. the light skin slaves. You must use the female VS the male, and the male VS, the female. You must always have your servants and OVERSEERS distrust all blacks, but it is necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us.
Gentlemen, these kits are your keys to control, use them. Never miss an opportunity. My plan is guaranteed, and the good thing about this plan is that if used intensely for one year the slave will remain perpetually distrustful.”- exert from Willie Lynch letter 1772 via www.daveyd.com

Dr. King Said It: I’m Black and I’m Proud!

As a group read the supplied text from the Willie Lynch and ask each student to write down a number from 1 to 5 that expresses their opinion as to the relevance of the content of the Willie Lynch letter in today’s society. A 5 represents the opinion that approach and resulting issues raised in the letter are fully visible and applicable today and a 1 represents that the approach and resulting issues raised in the letter are obsolete and not applicable today. Document all of the student’s responses on flip chart paper or the board separating the boys from the girls. Calculate the average for the boys, girls and the class as a whole. You can choose to reflect on the averages of each sub group and whole group by having a few students share their thoughts to their own response and the averages.

The following activity can be completed individually or in pairs (Co-Author Collaboration):
Write a rebuttal letter that lays out a plan that if we as a community implemented would actually “Let the willie lynch letter reverse a million times with…” You can pull from points that Dr. King expressed in the clip regarding black and white. Think about the lines where Kendrick states “Even if master’s listenin’, I got the world’s attention/So I’mma say somethin’ that’s vital and critical for survival/ Of mankind, if he lyin’, color should never rival/.” These lines express the impact that our culture has and can have on not only our community, but society as a whole. Use this to feel empowered as you write your letter that lays out the plan. Be creative in how we should use the resources that we have to go against every point in the exert of the Willie Lynch letter your reviewed as a group. This means that you address the issues of age, color, intellect, locale, size, etc. The result of your letter and plan should be a community where as Rapsody states “call your brothers magnificent, call all the sisters queens.

Performance:
Each individual or pair will present their letter to the group. After the group has presented their letters you can have a rap session to discuss the feasibility of implementing some of the suggestions identified in the letters. If the suggestions aren’t feasible for implementation on a macro level, what could a micro implementation look like within your school, after school and or summer program?

Edited Lyrics for class usage: Lyrics in green are the lyrics of emphasis for this activity

Kendrick Lamar – Complexion (A Zulu Love) Lyrics (Featuring Rapsody)

[Hook: (Pete Rock)]
Complexion (two-step)
Complexion don’t mean a thing (it’s a Zulu love)
Complexion (two-step)
It all feels the same (it’s a Zulu love)

[Verse 1: Kendrick Lamar]
Dark as the midnight hour or bright as the mornin’ sun
Give a f#$% about your complexion, I know what the Germans done
Sneak (dissin’)
Sneak me through the back window, I’m a good field n#$%!
I made a flower for you outta cotton just to chill with you
You know I’d go the distance, you know I’m ten toes down
Even if master listenin’, cover your ears, he ’bout to mention

[Hook]

[Verse 2: Kendrick Lamar]
Dark as the midnight hour, I’m bright as the mornin’ Sun
Brown skinned, but your blue eyes tell me your mama can’t run
Sneak (dissin’)
Sneak me through the back window, I’m a good field n@#$!
I made a flower for you outta cotton just to chill with you
You know I’d go the distance, you know I’m ten toes down
Even if master’s listenin’, I got the world’s attention
So I’mma say somethin’ that’s vital and critical for survival
Of mankind, if he lyin’, color should never rival
Beauty is what you make it, I used to be so mistaken
By different shades of faces
Then wit told me, “A woman is woman, love the creation”
It all came from God then you was my confirmation
I came to where you reside
And looked around to see more sights for sore eyes
Let the Willie Lynch theory reverse a million times with…

[Hook]

[Bridge]
You like it, I love it
You like it, I love it
[Verse 3: Rapsody]
Let me talk my Stu Scott, ‘scuse me on my 2Pac
Keep your head up, when did you stop? Love and die
Color of your skin, color of your eyes
That’s the real blues, baby, like you met Jay’s baby
You blew me away, you think more beauty in blue green and grey
All my Solomon up north, 12 years a slave
12 years of age, thinkin’ my shade too dark
I love myself, I no longer need Cupid
Enforcin’ my dark side like a young George Lucas
Light don’t mean you smart, bein’ dark don’t make you stupid
And frame of mind for them bustas, ain’t talkin’ “Woohah!”
Need a paradox for the pair of dots they tutored
Like two ties, L-L, you lose two times
If you don’t see you beautiful in your complexion
It ain’t complex to put it in context
Find the air beneath the kite, that’s the context
Yeah, baby, I’m conscious, ain’t no contest
If you like it, I love it, all your earth tones been blessed
Ain’t no stress, jigga boos wanna be
I ain’t talkin’ Jay, I ain’t talkin’ B
I’m talkin’ days we got school watchin’ movie screens
And spike your self-esteem
The new James Bond gon’ be black as me
Black as brown, hazelnut, cinnamon, black tea
And it’s all beautiful to me
Call your brothers magnificent, call all the sisters queens
We all on the same team, blues and pirus, no colors ain’t a thing

[Outro: Kendrick Lamar]
Barefoot babies with no cares
Teenage gun toters that don’t play fair, should I get out the car?
I don’t see Compton, I see something much worse
The land of the landmines, the hell that’s on earth

Looking at Hip-Hop through the glasses of Malcolm X

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By Timothy D. Jones, Chief Visionary Officer #HipHopEd  

If Malcolm X was alive and able to speak the practitioners, fans, educators, and those influenced by Hip-Hop I believe that it would be a very interesting conversation. In preparing to write this piece I took some time to look at the transitions within the life of Malcolm X and began to see the possibility and need for Hip-Hop to make similar transitions. I was asked to write a piece about Malcolm X from a Hip-Hop perspective. I didn’t want to write a traditional piece in the sense of mentioning the references to Malcolm X that have been embedded in Hip-Hop especially during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The correlations outlined in this piece will be relevant to where Hip-Hop is today and provide thoughts to consider when deciding where Hip-Hop will be tomorrow.

  1. Joining the Nation of Islam and getting a Major Record Deal: Malcolm X was at a low point in his life. He was serving time in prison and was introduced to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. The philosophy of the Nation substantiated many of Malcolm X’s views that he was taught as a child through his father’s work with the “Universal Negro Improvement Association.” While in prison, Malcolm X began to communicate with Elijah Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad advised him on how to come to peace with his past transgressions and how to move forward. While in prison Malcolm changed his sir name from “Little” to “X.” The “X” represented the unknown sir name from being separated from his true African heritage and to dismiss that sir name of the slave master. In prison, Malcolm X became a self educated man with an increased ability to articulate his views with a mastery of words. Upon Malcolm X’s release he was able to participate in the activities of the Nation of Islam. These activities provided the opportunities for Malcolm X to speak to and teach individuals from the inner cities of America to people across the world. The relationship between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam was partially one of loyalty based on a debt of gratitude for saving his life.

If you take a walk through any inner city neighborhood in the country and throughout different regions in the world you will see youth engaging in Hip-Hop music and culture. For many of these youth, the acquisition of a record deal provides the opportunities that society instructs youth to acquire through education and career experience. The self esteem and self worth that comes with feeling like you are successful at what you do based on the acclaim that your name musters within your community and beyond is something that these youth are sometimes willing to do anything for. A successful record deal can take a young person from being a voice within the crowd to the voice that leads the crowd. A record deal on a popular label can provide financial stability and opens doors to various business opportunities that for most youth in the inner city would remain closed. The relationship at times between the recording artist and the record company is one of loyalty based on a debt of gratitude for saving the artist’s life. 

  1. Being silenced by the Nation of Islam and being silenced by a Record Company: Malcolm X was prohibited from public speaking for 90 days after he made comments about President Kennedy being assassinated in 1963. The comments that Malcolm X made represented his voice and his views. Prior to this point as a Minister in the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X spoke the views and was the voice of Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm X’s quote “chickens coming home to roost” placed the assassination of President Kennedy as America reaping the violence that it had sown throughout its own land and throughout the world. Malcolm X would never speak on behalf of the Nation of Islam as one its own again. Malcolm X announced his departure from the Nation of Islam on March 8, 1964. Amidst Malcolm X beginning to have issues within the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad, his departure was triggered by the consequences levied on him for speaking his mind grounded on what he believed to be the truth.

A Record company is a business first and the presentation of a family with values between the company and the Artists are a fleeting facade that expires as soon as it is decided that the Artist’s value to the company is no longer worth the investment. Imagine as an Artist you have a successful run within a record company by putting out a particular style of music and presenting a particular image. Over time the real relationship is with the image and the message created through the art form rather than you as an Artistic individual. Art in its truest form represents the progression and creativity of the Artist and should never remain stagnant to fit into the confinement of popular culture. This means that many Hip-Hop artists must choose to fit into the prescribed paradigm dictated by the record company if they want to remain relevant and have their music presented to the public. If an Artist begins to operate outside of the prescribed paradigms the label will eventually drop the Artist from the label or lessen the amount of backing that they once placed behind the Artist’s projects. This is a form of silencing being enacted by the Record Company because the Artist’s message is no longer a representative of the direction of the company. Amidst an Artist beginning to have issues within a record company for a myriad of reasons, their departure can be triggered by changes in what is deemed “popular” and or you deciding that your musical truth is outside of the prescribed formula. 

  1. Going independent to gain control and save your soul: After leaving the Nation of Islam Malcolm X founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. a religious organization and the Organization of Afro-American Unity, a secular group that advocated Pan Africanism. Malcolm X maintained his Muslim faith and believed that a spiritual foundation was necessary. Malcolm X also had a desire to work with African Americans that weren’t Muslims so he founded the later organization to engage individuals of different religions and those who had no religious affiliation. These organizations allowed Malcolm X to begin to express his views for where he believed we should go as a people in America. Malcolm X also used his self-created platforms to recant several statements and philosophies that he expressed as a member of the Nation of Islam. The words and views expressed by Malcolm X during his season of independence are the words and views that resonated with the people yesterday, today, and will continue to resonate with people in the future.

At one time if an Artist was let go by their major label it was an artistic and career death sentence. Today the success of the Artist creating labels to put out their music has some opting for this business strategy instead of signing with a record deal with a larger established record company. The Artist that had a successful career on a major label may be in the position to branch off on their own and maintain a large percentage of their fan base developed in part through the promotions and marketing efforts of the major record company. There are various scenarios that lead to an Artist selecting to go the independent route to put out their music. Some of the scenarios of declaring independence from a major record company can still provide opportunities for collaboration with the label; others are situations where the separation creates animosity between the company and the artist. The music created by an Artist once they become independent hopefully is music that represents the true creativity and maturity of the Artists where they create music that can withstand the test of time.

  1. From Civil Rights to Human Rights from the Block to the World: In Malcolm X’s speech “The Ballot or The Bullet”, Malcolm X explains the limitations of a civil rights movement compared to a movement for human rights. The Civil Rights movement was designed to get rights and equalities for African Americans from the United States government. The Civil Rights struggle didn’t include the plight of people of African descent from across the globe. The Civil Rights struggle sought its victory from the same Government that created the laws that were being used to substantiate segregation and oppression that was being afflicted on African Americans. Malcolm described a departure in approach from Civil Rights to Human Rights would expand the reach of the movement because it would take the plight to the platform of the United Nations instead of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as it did in August 1963 for the March on Washington. The United States could be held accountable for its violations of Human Rights by the United Nations. The expansion of the perception of the movements would create a greater sense of connectivity amongst brothers and sisters from across the globe. This would make civil rights leaders, human rights leaders who will now speak on behalf of individuals on a world stage.

Contemporary Hip-Hop began in the South Bronx in 1973. Hip-Hop has continued to grow from spreading through the boroughs in New York City to various inner cities throughout the United States. The MC went from striving to be a star in their own neighborhood to becoming a nationwide artist through touring venues across the country. The social commentary that began to come out through Hip-Hop in the early 1980s represented the social ills that were plaguing minority youth in the inner city. Throughout the 1980s Artist from various parts of the country began to tell their stories as to what was going on and wrong in their neighborhoods. This expansion mirrored the Civil Rights movement in the fact that the struggle was defined within the borders of the United States and Hip-Hop was also challenging the Police and Government for their unfair practices that were keeping minorities in subpar living conditions.

Over the past 20 years through various advents in technology, Hip-Hop is now on the world’s stage. Youth from across the globe are tuned into the messages and images that are coming from Hip-Hop in America and these youth are making their own messages that portray their realities in their neighborhoods and societies. This provides the opportunity for Hip-Hop to advocate for Human Rights by the Artist creating messages that represent the plight of youth across the world instead of merely representing their block. There is also a greater responsibility that today’s Artists must assume because their voice is now being heard worldwide instead of just at the local park jam in the projects. Technology provides the opportunity for the Artist to become self-educated like Malcolm X did to free himself mentally and spiritually even while he was still physically confined in prison. The MC must free themselves from the prisons of industry and media companies that profit of presenting a narrow and shallow depiction of our existence as African Americans and Latino Americans. The freedom for the MC lies in becoming enlightened and then conveying this newly obtained knowledge and vision through their music. Hip-Hop has the power to influence the world for the betterment of Human Kind and it must take this opportunity and strive to fulfill it “By any Means Necessary!”

The Unity In Community

We are living in perilous times and two things that we have the power to change and control, that are magnifying the negative impact of these particular times over others that we have endured as a people is the lack of unity and true functionality of the church. I am grateful to be a part of a community that has been able to stay connected through various methods and I am excited about what greater works we can do together as a community. In Acts 2:44-45 it states “44 now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” This passage represents the methodology of the people who received the gospel from Peter after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. I want to focus on the sense of unity and community that is clearly described because these concepts are vital to our survival during these times that we are living in regardless of your spiritual beliefs.

People are hurting and are searching to find their way for themselves and their children and it is the role of the church to play its part in serving the people in their greatest hour of need. This work of the church was stating best by Jesus Christ in Luke 4:18 where He states “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;” We all know someone who is poor and or has experienced poverty in resources, faith and or in spirit. We all know someone who has experienced a broken heart. We all know someone who has been seemingly held captive by the circumstances of life to the point where they live in a prison where the bars are made out of perceived reality instead of steel. We all know someone who has become so short sighted based on what they see today that they can’t see tomorrow being any different so they live in a state of blindness because they have no hope. We all know someone who has experienced feeling oppressed because life has made it almost too difficult for them to believe in their God given capacity to allow their perception to ignite the changes that are necessary for them to address the issues within their lives. In addition to all of us knowing someone who has experienced these states of mind, circumstance and emotions, we all may have dealt with and are dealing with these ourselves and for some of us, even as we read this letter.

I am a Minister at The Believers Worship Center in Upper Marlboro, MD and we are in the process of renovating a building so that we can be in a position to impact the community the way the church once did for our parents and for some our grandparents. I have also been laboring as a youth worker and educator for over the past 18 years and through this work (ministry) I have been blessed to meet many of you that I am sending this letter. For some of you, our paths crossed before I truly gave my life to Christ and you have been a witness to the testimony of what Christ has done in my life. I am asking that you help impact a community that is in need by contributing $25, $50 or any amount that you may have avail to assist us in this effort. You can make your contribution by going to http://www.tbwc.org/giving.html . I know that you have all heard of church fundraisers and have sadly become skeptical of its purpose and impact. I am asking for you to contribute based on the example of Christ that you can see in the work that I have been able to do and believe that I am part of a ministry that will make a difference. The goal of my church is to be an example for other churches to emulate by following the scriptures that outline how the church should interact with and serve the community as a whole. If you are led to contribute, please select “building fund raiser” and include my name so that we can keep track of who you are giving on behalf of because we are all reaching out to family and friends in an effort to complete this work.

If you are not able to contribute at this time, I totally understand. I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter and know that if you are reading this letter, it is because I prayed for direction in who to send this letter to and prayed for whoever reads it to be blessed as they meditate on these words. I know that in your own way you are all making a positive impact on your community and this is the energy that has kept us connected and or connected us virtually (for my social media family). This is me taking a step out on faith in asking that you join me in making a natural and spiritual impact. There are infinite lessons available to us when we reflect back as a community and evaluate how we made it over when the enemy wanted us dead, we not only survived, we persevered and thrived.

In Love for our people,

Timothy

Hip-Hop Pedagogy as a tool to develop and measure common core college preparedness and readiness

get-attachment.aspxBy Timothy Jones @tdj6899, Chief Visionary Officer, #HipHopEd

#HipHopEd is hosting 2 chats (July 8th and July 15th 2014) that will focus on Hip-Hop pedagogy as a resource to develop and measure the seven “habits of mind” that are in the common core standards for college readiness and preparedness. The dates next to each description represent which Tuesday they will be discussed during the #HipHopEd chat. The end result will be a published report from the two chat transcripts that capture the ideas that generate the most response (via retweets and or comments) and or the ideas that we believe offer the most impact. Below is the information from the common core standards www.corestandards.org/

Students who are College and Career Ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Language

The descriptions that follow are not standards themselves but instead offer a portrait of students who meet the standards set out in this document. As students advance through the grades and master the standards in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language, they are able to exhibit with increasing fullness and regularity these capacities of the literate individual

They demonstrate independence. Tues July 8, 2014
Students can, without significant scaffolding, comprehend and evaluate complex texts across a range of types and disciplines, and they can construct effective arguments and convey intricate or multifaceted information. Likewise, students are able independently to discern a speaker’s key points, request clarification, and ask relevant questions. They build on others’ ideas, articulate their own ideas, and confirm they have been understood. Without prompting, they demonstrate command of Standard English and acquire and use a wide-ranging vocabulary. More broadly, they become self-directed learners, effectively seeking out and using resources to assist them, including teachers, peers, and print and digital reference materials.

They build strong content knowledge. Tuesday July 8, 2014
Students establish a base of knowledge across a wide range of subject matter by engaging with works of quality and substance. They become proficient in new areas through research and study. They read purposefully and listen attentively to gain both general knowledge and discipline-specific expertise.
They refine and share their knowledge through writing and speaking.

They respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline. Tuesday July 8, 2014
Students adapt their communication in relation to audience, task, purpose, and discipline. They set and adjust purpose for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use as warranted by the task. They appreciate nuances, such as how the composition of an audience should affect tone when speaking and how the connotations of words affect meaning. They also know that different disciplines call for different types of evidence (e.g., documentary evidence in history, experimental evidence in science).

They comprehend as well as critique. Tuesday July 15, 2014
Students are engaged and open-minded—but discerning—readers and listeners. They work diligently to understand precisely what an author or speaker is saying, but they also question an author’s or speaker’s assumptions and premises and assess the veracity of claims and the soundness of reasoning.

They value evidence. Tuesday July 15, 2014
Students cite specific evidence when offering an oral or written interpretation of a text. They use relevant evidence when supporting their own points in writing and speaking, making their reasoning clear to the reader or listener, and they constructively evaluate others’ use of evidence.

They use technology and digital media strategically and capably. Tuesday July 15, 2014
Students employ technology thoughtfully to enhance their reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use. They tailor their searches online to acquire useful information efficiently, and they integrate what they learn using technology with what they learn offline. They are familiar with the strengths and limitations of various technological tools and mediums and can select and use those best suited to their communication goals.

They come to understand other perspectives and cultures. Tuesday July 15, 2014
Students appreciate that the twenty-first-century classroom and workplace are settings in which people from often widely divergent cultures and who represent diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together. Students actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening, and they are able to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds. They evaluate other points of view critically and constructively. Through reading great classic and contemporary works of literature representative of a variety of periods, cultures, and worldviews, students can vicariously inhabit worlds and have experiences much different than their own.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts as we continue to grow the #HipHopEd chat from a virtual to a more tangible professional development tool for the education reform of a classroom, school, district, city, nation and world. See you every Tuesday from 9-10 pm EST for the greatest hour on twitter #HipHopEd