Civil Rights Education via A Beat & A Rhyme

TakeMe2YourLeaderDownload Mix Tape Here:   http://t.co/0PU4tGDJzo

By Timothy Jones, Chief Visionary Officer #HipHopEd @tdj6899

I’m sitting at my computer with my headphones on listening to “Take Me To Your Leader” created by DJ Hoodwink provided by @raptjr as my personal way to reflect on the day that the nation celebrates and commemorates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  This is not a standard mix tape review where I say this song is hot and this artist is featured.  This is a mix tape overview where I expound on the intent of the mix tape and the hope that the listener gets the responsibility that comes within the re-creation of the project. 

To drop “Take Me To Your Leader” on #MLKDAY14 would naturally make you believe that the leader that we are being taken to is Dr. King and what he represented for us as a people.  But if you really listen to the music and focus on the power of Hip-Hop as a medium that is now a worldwide phenomenon; the leader(s) are the voices of the artists on the project.  Leadership is something that can no longer be embodied in an individual that can be assassinated in an attempt to stop whatever movement the individual represented.  Leadership is a shared responsibility that we do not have the luxury of deciding whether to embrace without severe consequences for our failure to act.  There are roles within the notion of leadership that position some as leaders, but not in the traditional sense that led to the assassinations of Malcolm and Martin amongst others.

Leadership is the theory by which we embrace our connectivity to one another as people who are aligned by our experiences which include our victories, sacrifices and our sufferings.  Music and art has always been one of our most powerful weapons in evoking collective thought that incite a people to the point that they see themselves and the world around them through the paradigms created by the music.  Art is a continual remix of sounds, thoughts and method of expression; which inherently attaches a responsibility to all who dare call themselves artists.  This ideology is not prevalent in our commercialized Hip-Hop that dominates American airwaves, but is bubbling in what we call the “Underground.”  Is it a coincidence that the “Underground Railroad” is the name of the system that was developed to transport individuals from enslaved to free?  Can the music on “Take Me To Your Leader” be a stop on the “Underground Railroad” of Hip-Hop music that can transport the mentality of our youth and adults from enslaved to free?  A mindset that is free to question the way things are and presenting an alternative narrative that explains the way things can and should be?

5 Ways to use “Take Me To Your Leader” as way to introduce civil rights education to youth and adults

1. Listen to Mix Tape with a group of young people and conduct searches for the subject matters that are in the songs.  An example would be listening to “Dear Chicago Summer” and examine how violence increases in the summer and discuss ways that this pattern can be changed for summer 2014.

2. There are portions of tracks where you hear words from President Obama’s tribute to Nelson Mandela laid over Hip-Hop beats.  Take some of the words of Dr. King that speak to the realities that many people are still dealing with and have them remix the words by putting them to music.  Here is a Dr. King snippet that is seldom presented in schools, Dr. King said it: “I’m Black and I’m Proud”

3. Track 28 “Wake Up Everybody” on the Mix Tape is a remake of “Wake Up Everybody” by Teddy Pendergrass, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes in 1975.  This creative expression is a great time travel bridge to begin to look at music from the past that called for us as a community to go higher and the Hip-Hop that is doing the same thing today.

4. Track 10 Jasiri X’s “21 Forever” provides the backdrop to look at the portrayal of young adulthood that is presented in commercial Hip-Hop and compare it to the role that young people played in the civil rights movement.  Teach our young people what the Freedom Riders were doing as 21 year olds.

5. Track 29 Dee-1 “Walking Revolution” provides a list of rules embodied by Dee-1 and the movement behind his music.  Look up some of the rules or creeds developed by organizations that were involved with civil rights.  Have the students develop their own set of rules that they must agree upon as a class for a movement to empower themselves.  Also check out Dee-1’s “American Dream” and discuss the feasibility of achieving an “American Dream” from an “Inner City Nightmare”

“A man without a mission is in mental prison, no bail”- Dee-1

Advertisements

The Creation of the #HipHopEd Top 40 Songs based on Educational Value #T40S

By Timothy Jones, Chief Visionary Officer #HipHopEd @tdj6899
Slide1
In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the party in the recreation room at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, New York on August 11, 1973 hosted by DJ Kool Herc, we decided to curate a top 40 list. Many people view this as the beginning of contemporary Hip-Hop although the phrase (Hip-Hop) wasn’t used to capture the elements of the budding culture until Afrika Bambaataa in 1974. We didn’t want to curate a typical top 40 list based on sales or the pontificating that has become customary when individuals create lists of the top MCs in the game at a moment or in history. We decided that we would create an objective approach to curate a subjective list of the top 40 songs in the history of Hip-Hop based on educational value. There was a clear distinction between educational value and educational content. The determination of educational value was determined more by the ability of the educator as well as the content of the song. To determine educational content would have required a set of educational standards to serve as the benchmark of the content and this probably would have garnered a very short list.

The plan was to have the chat on Tuesday July 30, 2013 serve as the opportunity for the #HipHopEd community to present songs that they believed should be on the list. The time period where we would count suggestions was from 9:00 pm EST on Tuesday July 30, 2013 until 9:00 am EST on Wednesday July 31, 2013. The weekly #HipHopEd chats only last an hour but we have a growing group of Hip-Hop Educators in the United Kingdom who are fours ahead of our time zone, and we wanted to give them a chance to participate without having to stay up in the middle of the night. The tweets that we counted included the hash tags #HipHopEd and #T40S (Top 40 Songs). We would capture the full 12 hours of tweets and count each song that was mentioned. Once a song was tweeted we also counted the amount of times the tweet was retweeted (RT) and or made a favorite (FAV). If there were two songs that had the same number of total votes the order they would be placed on the list was at the discretion of the leadership team of #HipHopEd. The chat scheduled for Tuesday August 6, 2013 would be where the top songs would be revealed in groups of 10 and in 15 minute intervals. The 15 minute intervals will provide a window for each list of 10 songs to be discussed and or debated.

The chat that took place on July 30th was amazing because the participation level was so high that we trended on Twitter well beyond the regular length of our chat which is an hour. The participants were of various ages from teenagers to individuals in their 40s and beyond. The participants were educators, students, artists and fans. The subjective determination of “educational value” was presented in ways that to some were easily accepted and in other instances, not so much based on the lack of RTs and FAVs. The chat was captured on Chirpstory http://chirpstory.com/li/103442. Chipstory is a website that allows you to search tweets using a particular hash tag and then gather them so they flow like a story. Once the Chirpstory is complete the link can be shared and viewed by anyone in our #HipHopEd community and beyond. The Chirpstory also serves as a great reference tool which allows us to go back and review past chats and assess the impact of the chat based on the times the story has been viewed.

During week between July 30th and August 6th we sifted through all the data that we collected and we put together the top 40 song list. We had to make an executive decision on song number 40 because there were 3 songs remaining with the same number of votes for the final slot. Outside of this executive decision the list shaped out to clearly represent the songs that were tweeted with accompanying RTs and or FAVs during the voting period. The songs on the list represented a wide spectrum of Hip-Hop based on the years that the songs were released. Ten percent (4 songs) that made the top 40 came from artists that were independent and Fifteen percent (6 songs) came from the ladies and another song featured a lady on the chorus. The educational value of the songs ranged from the song’s significance in the history of Hip-Hop, the subject matter addressed in the song and the structure of the song.

The true educational value of the #T40S will be measured on what educators and individuals do with the list. This chart is being used around the country as a tool to ask critical questions of youth and adults using the lens that Hip-Hop provides to discuss the issues of life that often times we find difficult to discuss. This chart is full of introspect, anger, warnings and challenges for us as a community. Here are the links to the four lists that were released during the #HipHopEd chat on Tuesday August 6, 2013.
8-6-13_Draft_3
1. Songs 40-31: http://edcvs.co/13BUruH
2. Songs 30-21: http://edcvs.co/13BUAhI
3. Songs 20-11: http://edcvs.co/13BUIhb
4. Songs 10-1: http://edcvs.co/13BULcN

To review past #HipHopEd chats please go to http://www.chirpstory/id/amilcook.com

MTCA: (S) 101 “Beat 2 the Rhyme” Creative Writing for Academic Achievement

1picThis workshop will introduce concepts based on the 5th stage of development for adolescence (12 to 18 years) according to Erickson’s Stages of Development.  The creative writing and critical thinking assignments will focus on the following:

–          Identity
–          Social Interactions/Peer Groups
–          Moral/Ethic Issues
–          Moratorium
–          Philosophy of Life
–          Skills for High School Students (according to www.FamilyEducation.com)

Song: Young, Wild & Free (Wiz Khalifa)                                Stage 5: Moratorium

Sound Check: If you could do three things and not worry about the consequences of your actions or being disciplined by your parents or any other adults, what would they be and why?  Ask a few students to read their responses and make a list on the board.  Or you can have everyone read their top response of the three that they wrote down.

Introduction: “A psychosocial moratorium is when a person takes a break from “real life” to actively search for their identity. The developer, Erik Erikson, noted that it is a period of time “during which the individual through free role experimentation may find a niche in some section of his society, a niche which is firmly defined and yet seems to be uniquely made for him” (Erikson, 1956). During a psychosocial moratorium, a person has the opportunity to try on multiple identities and/or roles before firmly committing to one. They also finalize their sense of ethics and morals in this stage. Erikson intended for it to be the final stage of identity development, which takes place in late adolescence. People going through a psychosocial moratorium are said to be having an “identity crisis.” Erikson postulated that identity development facilitated personal functioning and well-being. If a person does not make a commitment to an identity or role after taking a moratorium, or if they don’t have a chance to take a moratorium, the person has a high risk for developing confusion about their identity and their role in society. (Erikson, 1956; Erikson, 1988)” https://sites.google.com/site/motivationataglanceischool/psychosocial-moratorium

This break from “real life” is a prominent theme in adolescence because youth want the freedom of choice without the full weight of the consequences of their actions.  In looking at this theory further and attaching socioeconomic status to it, do we have a difference between the moratoriums for the wealthy versus the poor?  Do adult like responsibilities placed on young people from lower economic families like watching younger siblings and preparing meals impact a young person’s ability to fully engage in his/her moratorium?  Is the notion of taking a break from “real life” inherently negative, positive, or neither?  We are going to listen to a song by Wiz Khalifa called “Young, Wild & Free” and discuss whether Hip-Hop provides a sort of moratorium for youth to escape “real life”, but at what cost if Hip-Hop is presented as “real life?”

Performance: Pass out the lyrics to “Young, Wild & Free” 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:
–          We’re just having fun/ we don’t care who sees
–          Living young and wild and free
–          Saggin’ my pants, not caring what I show
–          Got my own car, no job, no children

Students should choose 3 of the 4 lyrics and write (3) sentences that explain what is being said by each lyric.

Lyrical Exercise:
In the song the emphasis of being young, wild and free is on using drugs and partying.  I want you to attempt to rewrite the chorus and write a verse that focuses on other activities that young people participate in under the motto of “Young, Wild and Free.”  In the chorus you should change the first two lines to include the other behaviors that young people participate in under their moratorium and therefore not considering the consequences.  Your verse should talk about the fun that you have in doing whatever it is that you are doing and how society should really back off because you are “young” and this is what your youth is about.  Your verse should be 12 lines in length.

Performance: Each student will read their completed work in the front of the class and submit.

“Young, Wild & Free”
(with Snoop Dogg)
(feat. Bruno Mars)

[Hook: Bruno Mars]
So what we get drunk?
So what we smoke weed?
We’re just having fun
We don’t care who sees
So what we go out?
That’s how it’s supposed to be
Living young and wild and free

[Verse 1: Wiz Khalifa]
Uh, Uh huh
So what I keep ‘em rolled up?
Saggin’ my pants, not caring what I show
Keep it real with my ni*&as
Keep it player for these h*^s
And look clean don’t it?
Washed it the other day, watch how you lean on it
Give me some 501 jeans on it
Roll joints bigger than King Kong’s fingers
And smoke them h*^s down ’til they stingers
You a class clown and if I skip for the day
I’m with your b&#$% smokin’ grade A

[Verse 1: Snoop Dogg]
You know what?
It’s like I’m 17 again
Peach fuzz on my face
Lookin’, on the case
Tryna find a hella taste
Oh my god, I’m on the chase, Chevy
It’s gettin’ kinda heavy, relevant, sellin’ it
Dippin’ away, time keeps slippin’ away
Zip in the safe, flippin’ for pay
Tippin’ like I’m drippin’ in paint
Up front, four blunts, like, “Khalifa put the weed in a J”

[Hook]

[Verse 2: Wiz Khalifa]
And I don’t even care
Cause if me and my team in there
There’s gonna be some weed in the air
Tell ’em Mac

[Verse 2: Snoop Dogg]
Blowin’ everywhere we goin’ and now you knowin’
When I step right up, get my lighter so I can light up

[Wiz Khalifa]
That’s how it should be done
Soon as you thinkin’ you’re down
Find how to turn things around
Now things are lookin’ up

[Snoop Dogg]
From the ground up, pound up, this Taylor Gang
So turn my sound up and mount up and do my thang

[Wiz Khalifa]
Now I’m chillin’, fresh outta class, feelin’
Like I’m on my own and I could probably own a building
Got my own car, no job, no children
Had a science project, me and Mac killed it

[Snoop Dogg]
T-H-C, M-A-C, D-E-V, H-D-3, high as me
This is us, we gon’ fuss
And we gon’ fight and we gon’ roll
And live off life

[Hook]

[Bridge: Wiz Khalifa]
Yeah, roll one, smoke one
When you live like this you’re supposed to party
Roll one, smoke one, and we all just having fun
So we just, roll one, smoke one
When you live like this you’re supposed to party
Roll one, smoke one, and we all just having fun

[Hook]

Sample Lesson 2

1pic2This workshop will introduce concepts based on the 5th stage of development for adolescence (12 to 18 years) according to Erickson’s Stages of Development.  The creative writing and critical thinking assignments will focus on the following:

–          Identity
–          Social Interactions/Peer Groups
–          Moral/Ethic Issues
–          Moratorium
–          Philosophy of Life
–          Skills for High School Students (according to www.FamilyEducation.com)

Song: Starships (Nicki Minaj)                     Stage 5: Moratorium

Sound Check:

“So he moves with his peers, different blocks, different years
Sittin on, different benches like it’s musical chairs
All his peoples moved on in life, he’s on the corners at night
with young dudes it’s them he wanna be like
It’s sad but it’s fun to him right? He never grew up
31 and can’t give his youth up; he’s in his second childhood” –Nas 2nd Childhood

“Time flyin she the same person, never matures
All her friends married doin well
She’s in the streets yakkety yakkin like she was 12
Honey is twenty-seven, argues fights
Selfish in her own right, polite, guess she’s in her second childhood”- Nas 2nd Childhood

(If a person does not make a commitment to an identity or role after taking a moratorium, or if they don’t have a chance to take a moratorium, the person has a high risk for developing confusion about their identity and their role in society.) Analyze the two quotes from Nas’ song “2nd Childhood” and the statement in italics and write a short paragraph for each one telling what you believe could have happened to these individuals during the period of adolescence and their psychosocial moratorium that has them in these life conditions as adults.  Ask a few students to read their responses and make a list of the reasons mentioned in the paragraphs on the board.

Introduction: We are continuing our study on Erickson’s theory of adolescents participating in a “psychosocial moratorium” as a process of establishing their identity.  The break from “real life” as the moratorium is called takes on different forms based on socio-economic status and the individual desires of the youth.  Culture can play a significant role in influencing the behaviors that take place under the auspices of a “moratorium.”  What happens when the behaviors that are being promoted are behaviors that are legally adult in nature and are irresponsible for adults to participate excessively?  The song that we will be reviewing is “Starships” by Nicki Minaj.  The song is very upbeat and promotes a spirit of partying and forgetting the worries of the day, but at what cost?

Performance: Pass out the lyrics to “Starships” 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:
–          They say, what they gonna say?
–          Get on the floor, floor/Like it’s your last chance
–          Can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high
–          That’s our life, there’s no end in sight

Students should choose 3 of the 4 lyrics and write (3) sentences that explain what is being said by each lyric.

Lyrical Exercise:
Look through the verses of this song and identify the behavior in the song that you deem irresponsible.  Think about the potential short and long term consequences associated with the behaviors celebrated in the song.  Write two 8 line verses to “starships.”  One verse will outline the responsible way to ensure that you are ready to fly high in young adulthood in a manner that is healthy for you and full of opportunity.  The other verse should outline the consequences of the irresponsible behavior that you identified within the original song.  Include the chorus:

“Starships were meant to fly/Hands up and touch the sky/can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high/Let’s do this one more time” before each of your verses in your poem.  You can choose which verse you want to go first in your poem.

Performance: Each student will read their completed work in the front of the class and submit.

Nicki Minaj
“Starships”

Red one
Let’s go to the beach, each
Let’s go get away
They say, what they gonna say?
Have a drink, clink, found the Bud Light
Bad b@#$%@* like me, is hard to come by
The Patrón, own, let’s go get it on
The zone, own, yes I’m in the zone
Is it two, three, leave a good tip
I’ma blow all my money and don’t give two s#$^#

I’m on the floor, floor
I love to dance
So give me more, more, ‘til I can’t stand
Get on the floor, floor
Like it’s your last chance
If you want more, more
Then here I am

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high
Let’s do this one more time

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Let’s do this one last time
Can’t stop…

(We’re higher than a mother#$@%^) [x3]

Jump in my hooptie hooptie hoop
I own that
And I ain’t paying my rent this month
I owe that
But f#@$ who you want, and f#$% who you like
That’s our life, there’s no end in sight
Twinkle, twinkle little star

Now everybody let me hear you say ray ray ray
Now spend all your money cause today’s pay day
And if you’re a G, you a G, G, G
My name is Onika, you can call me Nicki

Get on the floor, floor
Like it’s your last chance
If you want more, more
Then here I am

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high
Let’s do this one more time

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Let’s do this one last time
Can’t stop…

(We’re higher than a mother#$@%^) [x3]

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high
Let’s do this one more time

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Let’s do this one last time
Can’t stop…

(We’re higher than a mother#$@%^) [x3]

“Just My Thoughts”

At the age of 43 and being born and raised on what I know now to be Hip-Hop culture, I am always amazed at its evolution from being simply something that was done in the moment and talked about until the next moment came along to truly shaping the way people see themselves and the world around them.  I began to mature as a conscious intelligent man through engaging Hip-Hop while at Howard University without ever hearing the word “Pedagogy.”

I knew the power within the music. Its ability to conduct emotions like a great conductor controls an orchestra.  I knew that Hip-Hop was telling me things about myself that my formal education wasn’t telling me.  I also witnessed the stories that Hip-Hop told me. The other hoods throughout the US and soon the world which opened my eyes and sensitivity to the plight of my people instead of the plight of just my projects.

I soon realized that I had something to give to Hip-Hop that wasn’t via a four-track recorder, a sample, or a written rhyme.  I realized that what I had to offer Hip-Hop was a sense of direction for its protection and projection.  In 1991, at Howard University there was a Hip-Hop Conference called “Hip-Hop at its Crossroads: Seizing the Cultural Initiative.”  The students at Howard University and budding industry professionals from the stage, booth, and the office organized this event.  It was the first event that began to ask questions around the potential of Hip-Hop and its participants (the people).  Hip-Hop had enrolled in college and was being presented to the students, guests, staff and faculty in a manner that was all encompassing.  Hip-Hop was becoming more than entertainment, more than expressions. It was becoming economical, political, and spiritual.  Hip-Hop was now becoming the destination of resume and degree-toting individuals instead of the last resort for brothers and sisters on the block that missed the school bus of Opportunity to the University of Possibility.

The conference ran from 1991-1996 and its impact was something that we didn’t fully acknowledge or even properly document. This conference birthed theories that are being discussed today on the street corner and the dorm room.  We didn’t know that the same corporate America that asked us not use the name “Hip-Hop” because of its negative perception would become its bed fellow behind closed doors and then become its “John” and place its #1 girl out on the streets, so others may eat (the others being themselves).

As I grew and the Lord redirected my career path from being an Accountant to working with youth, I used the most viable tool that I had. My students were reflections of me. I used Hip-Hop to connect and respect with my congregation and then continued to use Hip-Hop to project a path that we would walk and learn on together.  Since I was not a university-trained educator, I still had no knowledge of pedagogy or theoretical methods of teaching.  I was doing what I knew and what I saw working with the students that the trained teachers had put to the side.  Ms. Thompson couldn’t reach them but I realized that Tupac could so Tupac became my assistant on a daily basis in class.  I just began to ask the right questions after Tupac’s lectures and show the students how to shape their responses. The results were essays, poems, readings, conversations, and anthologies.

Over the past 20 years since the first Hip-Hop conference, you have a generation of educators and parents that have been raised on Hip-Hop to various degrees and now you even have some of them with Hip-Hop degrees.  The school system and the prison system secretly or not so secretly formed a deal that resulted in tunnels that lead from the classroom to the cell block for anyone who doesn’t show the immediate capacity to learn and excel.

I believe that for some using Hip-Hop in the classroom is out of a sense of desperation because everything that would be deemed traditional has failed.  When there is a true lack of respect and sincerity in how the culture is used to interact with youth, they can easily see right through the feeble attempt and will often create a larger communication gap than the one that you were attempting to use Hip-Hop to fill in the first place.  The introduction of Hip-Hp in the classroom should begin with the students presenting what they define as Hip-Hop and it can be guided by your critical thinking prompts that challenge them to listen to their music with a more critical ear and to watch their videos with a more critical eye.

The truth is that to a large number of adults Hip-Hop is either friend or foe or both depending on the setting.  My focus when it comes to using Hip-Hop as an educational device can change with the audience and the purpose that I am trying to achieve.  With my middle school students, I use my ability to rhyme coupled with music to help students increase their ability to comprehend and communicate.  With my High School students, I examine Hip-Hop’s influence on popular culture and popular culture’s influence on adolescent development.

Can there be a line drawn from the portrayal of prison experiences in Hip-Hop music, videos, and movies to the change in the perception of going to prison and therefore prison becoming a rite of passage as opposed to a punishment?  Is the “Hip-Hop” that the youth are adapting their identity to, the industry or the culture?  Is it more authentic for a person who considers him or herself “Hip-Hop” to learn how to be an educator than an educator trying to become “Hip-Hop?”  What happens to this movement when Corporate America and the Academic Academy choose to move to the next thing leaving Hip-Hop back where it started from, the streets?

Let’s keep these discussions going and let’s connect on twitter @tdj6899 and every Tuesday at 9:00 pm EST #hiphoped

Peace