Thug Life Revisited/ Thug Life Reimagined

ThugLifeRevisitedReimagined

Thug Life Revisited

As I sat alone in a darkened theater with the anticipation of a child being strapped into a seat waiting for a monster size roller coaster to take off, I eagerly waited for the movie “The Hate U Give” to begin. I watched the previews for the film and I followed via social media the intentional education centered campaign to promote the movie and celebrate the book that inspired the movie. I was ready to be emotional in my silence and to be stimulated to action through tears that would water the seeds of love that the Lord has planted inside of me for the plight of teenagers and my community. I hadn’t read the book or knew much of anything about the Author Angie Davis before seeing the movie, so I was in for a treat when a dominant theme presented itself in the movie that drew me on a very professional and personal level.

This theme is the ideology that was coined “Thug Life” by Tupac Shakur. The phrase’s popularity and enduring quality in some sense shined brighter than what Tupac was communicating through these two words, eight letters and a reality that continues to exist more than 20 years after his death in 1996. Thug Life according to Tupac stands for The Hate U Give Little Infants F&@k Everybody. This theme is at the center of the film and the book and it stirs up the embodiment of Tupac Shakur in a way that transcends Tupac the artist to Tupac the social commentary philosopher and fore teller for what the plight of our community will be because of “Thug Life.”

Now to everyone who is put off by the breakdown of the word “Life” let’s not allow a profane word to derail our thinking from examining the premise that Tupac was communicating. If we focus on the way, we treat our children as a litmus test for examining our values and beliefs as a society then we can look at Thug Life and see more than enough validity to have a conversation. I will even venture to look at the warning expressed around the mistreatment of children in the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 18:6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” Jesus was speaking about misleading a child of God but in an earlier verse He states that to fully believe in Him we must come to Him like a child. Think of a child’s innocence, imagination, and intrigue in the natural, this how Christ wants us to come and belief in Him. The use of “child” as descriptive state of being and relationship is one that I am standing on when drawing a connection to the warning in the scriptures to the warning given by Tupac.

Thug Life Reimagined

“The Hate U Give” examines hatred coming from various directions and this is key because it is not just an us versus them whereas we are the sole recipients of hate and don’t have the capacity to give hate ourselves. When I finished watching the movie and meditating on what I watched and what I believe I began to reimagine Thug Life to identify where forms of hatred comes from that are impacting our children and youth. The reimagining of Thug Life is not one where I plan on reciting sources, data points and headlines to prove its validity. I simply want you to take a moment and think about where we stand as a society when it comes to how a growing number of our black and brown children in lower economic communities are impacted by the various institutions and people that operate within the ecosystems of their lives to the point where their ability to be their full selves are stifled.

Thug Life: The Hate U Give Limiting Insights From Education

If we think about the inequities as far as resources made available to schools based on zip codes and funding allocation formulas coupled with the perceptions of black and brown children embodied by and acted upon by predominately white educators and administrators; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?  When our black and brown children don’t see reflections of themselves in the wide array of fields of study that are available to them to pursue and when their knowledge and brilliance is often undervalued; is a stretch to view this as form of hatred?  When education is presented as the key to unlock the doors of opportunity, but the locks and the doors are changing faster than a new key of education can be created in the hood; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?

Thug Life: The Hate U Give Limiting Insights From Entertainment

If we think about the honesty and vulnerability that is embedded in the God given ability to create that then gets bastardized in its capitalistic packing and purpose to shape the ideals and identities of a targeted community under the moniker of entertainment; is it a stretch to view this is as a form of hatred?  When the marketplace dictates that there can only be a very limited number of women voices in Hip-Hop that are successful at a given moment, thus creating an unhealthy form of competition; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?   When contrived creative expressions over saturates the developing minds of our youth to the point where it is difficult for them to see themselves through a non-entertainment lens; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?

Thug Life: The Hate U Give Limiting Insights From Enforcement

If we think about how the instincts of enforcement often begin with aggression when engaging black and brown youth regardless of the setting where they interact with these youth; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?  When fear can override training in the hood and allowances are given selectively to people in select communities; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?  When the system treats drug use as a crime in one community in one era and treats drug use as a health issue in a different community today; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?

Thug Life: The Hate U Give Limiting Insights From Environments

If we think about the differing landscapes and amenities within varying communities that can often be differentiated by race/ethnicity and income; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?  When we think about the continuing water crisis in Flint Michigan that has seemingly slid to obscurity based on its place in the news cycle; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?  If we compare the access to healthy food eateries, supermarkets, specialty stores and restaurants by zip codes within various cities; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?

As Tupac stated, The Hate U Give Little Infants F@#k Everybody

Peace!

Timothy Jones @tdj6899

 

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#HipHopEd Top 20 Thought Provoking Hip-Hop Songs of 2017

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For the past few years we as a #HipHopEd community virtually come together and make suggestions of Hip-Hop songs that were released in the current year that we felt were “thought provoking.”  We purposely don’t use terms like “educational” or “positive” because these terms can be extremely subjective and limit the creativity and critical thinking skills that are inherent in every true Hip-Hop Educator.  “Thought Provoking” is a term that speaks to the collaborative effort between the musical work and the educator to facilitate a teachable moment and or discussion through the analysis and evaluation of the musical work and the issues brought up through the overall interpretation.  We strive to not make this a mere popularity contest or a selection of favorites based on aesthetics that negate the creativity and originality of modern day voices in our culture.

It is our hope that this list will be a provocative one that you will find useful for your listening and continued development as an educator.  There are some challenges to the process such as the number of followers an individual making a song selection has and the notoriety or lack thereof of the artist being suggested; but its imperfections still capture the human element that makes the list a living document that may look different if the suggestions were reviewed and agreed upon by a panel of “experts.”  We simply counted the number (retweets) and (likes) for song suggestions from 9:00 pm Tuesday 12/19/17 to 3:00 pm Wednesday 12/20/17 EST.

I want to thank one of our #HipHopEd collaborators, Joquetta Johnson for creating the play list once the data was compiled.  Follow Joquetta on Twitter @accordin2jo 

Share your thoughts to the list by tweeting us @TheRealHipHopEd.

#HipHopEd Top 20 Thought Provoking Hip-Hop Songs of 2017

Lets take this list as an opportunity to create lessons, activities and professional development workshops together in 2018.

 

 

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

kill-jay-z-444

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

 

 

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

Hip-Hop Summertime Learning

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

The summer is a great time to engage in learning as a life style because you do not have to be concerned with a test at the end of the summer to quantify your knowledge gained unless you are attending summer school. #HipHopEd would like to propose some ideas that will provide opportunities to teach and learn throughout the summer for the educator, parent and student. The following are some projects and activities that have Hip-Hop music, culture and or pedagogy at its core but are simple to implement:
1. Summer Breeze: Create an Instagram account and challenge yourself to take a picture a day and select a song that the picture represents. You can write in the text of a lyric from a song that you feel the picture represents. You should also include the name of the song and the artist so that those who are participating with you in the project can look up the songs and possibly add their own lyrics as a comment to your post. If you are advanced you can create 15 second videos that include your still photo with the sample of the music playing. (Critical Thinking, Creativity and Communication)
2. Folders & Crates: This activity is targeted to parents and children but can also be done with teachers/educators who may be working with a small group of students during the summer.

emotionwheelThe emotion wheel above can be used as a leader in you and your child and or student identifying songs or can be used to evaluate the songs that each of you bring to the session. You can use this wheel to begin to have discussions around what are some of the characteristics that songs have that touch on these emotions. Are there songs that touch on multiple emotions and or songs that evoke one emotion to one listener and a different one to another? The concept of crates and folders is to strive for the older individual to bring in music from when they were around the age of the child and or students they are working with (crate) and the child or student would bring music that they currently have in the folders of their “i-pod” or other music device. (Critical Thinking and Collaboration)
3. You Must Learn: This is primarily for educators but a parent can do this as well on a small scale. Ask your students and or child to give the names of their top three artists. You can ask the student and or child to briefly explain why these individuals are their favorite artists and ask them to include either their favorite album or songs. You will create a playlist that you will listen to over the summer to gain some insights into how your students and or children view themselves and the world around them based on the music they consume. As you listen to the playlist you are not making judgments on the songs based on whether they fit you musical taste buds; you are listening to later present insightful revelations gained and or thought provoking questions to ask the students and or children about the song. If you are not able to get a list from students you can go to billboard and or i-tunes and create a playlist based on their top artist, or look up the playlist of your local urban radio station www.urbaninsite.com. (Critical Thinking and Communication)              4. Step into the Arena: This is an activity that students, parents and educators can do together or individually. Try your hand at one of the Hip-Hop arts over the summer. You can get a sketch pad and some sharpie markers and try to make some graffiti art. Think of a pseudonym that best describes you and develop it over the summer through various Hip-Hop arts. You can try to write and recite rhymes about your favorite activities that you plan on doing throughout the summer. If music is your thing, challenge yourself to become a DJ by looking into resources such as www.virtualdj.com. If you are game to try Hip-Hop dance, you may be able to find a local recreation center or workout facility that offers Hip-Hop dance. (Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking)
5. #POP Power Of Perspective: This is primarily for educators and students, parents can challenge themselves to do this and reflect on the impact that Hip-Hop may have had on their upbringing as well as seeing the possibilities. As an Educator or Parent can you see the ability of a MC to move the crowd and engage a young person as something that you would like the ability to do?   What aspects of the MCs presentation, preparation and delivery do you see feasible to incorporate into your presentation, preparation and delivery of lessons and information that you present to your students or children? This is the power of perspective where one person can see the teachable moments that exist within the expressions of Hip-Hop where others can’t see them or choose not to acknowledge them. Here are some videos that posses some incredible wordplay as well as powerful visuals and references of education, school culture and setting. Review these videos and see if you are willing to take on the “Hip-Hop Wordsmith Alliteration” challenge. Here are four videos to get you inspired:

Papoose Alphabetical Slaughter A-Z: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SApmSrHDhQo&list=PLP47NQEbZOS0ZsVsn2pnpFmqqGMc4T9uN&feature=share&index=5

Papoose Alphabetical Slaughter Part 2 (Z-A) pay attention to school setting within the video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM5k0CXfueQ&list=PLP47NQEbZOS0ZsVsn2pnpFmqqGMc4T9uN&feature=share&index=4

Masta Ace / Ed OG A’s & E’s:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVgBjb9V5Ak&feature=share&list=PLP47NQEbZOS0ZsVsn2pnpFmqqGMc4T9uN&index=3

Smoothe The Hustler “The Art of Rap” Count the MCs:
http://youtu.be/gDqt0wmc-sQ

Check me out on twitter @tdj6899 and on #HipHopEd, every Tuesday from 9-10 pm EST

Peace

Hip-Hop Project Based Learning: Illmatic

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By Timothy Jones @tdj6899 for #HipHopEd

Imagine in the fall semester of 1992 a group of students are taking a sociology class at a local college in New York City.  The students are having a series of discussions about the impact that project living and drugs can have on behavior and one’s outlook on life.  The Sociology course covered several theories and began with a comparison and contrasting of the sociological and social theories.  The Sociological theory is often based on testable propositions about society and relies on the scientific method in its aim for objectivity.  The Social theory is less concerned with objectivity and more likely to pass normative judgments.  The professor challenged the students to form groups and produce a project that embodies a sociological or social theory approach to answering the following driving question:

What are some of the impacts on children growing up in an inner city that is plagued by the environments of drugs, perceived lack of opportunity and violence that urban educators need to understand?  The students through their project would be providing urban educators various insights into some of the behaviors and perspectives that these young people in their classrooms may have.  The urban educators should be able to use the lessons within the finished project to better understand and engage the youth in their classrooms that are growing up in different urban neighborhoods in New York City and beyond.

A group of students named Nas, Q-Tip, Large Professor, DJ Premiere, L.E.S., Pete Rock and AZ decided to examine their upbringings in Queens and Brooklyn using a social theory approach and write and produce a series of songs that would later be packaged and released in 1994 as Nas’ debut album “Illmatic.”  Here is a closer examination of how “Illmatic” could have been the result of a project based learning assignment given in a sociology class back in the fall semester of 1992.  Buck Institute for Education www.bie.org is a premiere resource for project based learning and they have created an essential checklist for educators to understand the elements that must be present in project based learning.

Looking back, here is how “Illmatic” could have been evaluated based on having the essential elements of project based learning:

1.       Focus on significant content: “Illmatic” is the coming of age story of a young man growing up in New York City during the height of the crack epidemic which ravaged many inner cities across America

2.       Develop 21st Century Competencies: The creation of “Illmatic” featured the collaboration of Nas and a collection of the premiere Hip-Hop producers of the day.  The album communicated a story that spanned an array of emotions in a manner that was deemed acceptable (where often the only acceptable emotion to express is anger) by individuals growing up under the strictest of definition of manhood.  Nas and AZ exhibits creativity and critical thinking as MCs with crafted rhymes that tell stories, embodied figurative language and elevated rhyming standards for MCs that followed for more than a decade.

3.       Engage students in in-depth inquiry: The group held extensive conversations about life growing up in the ghetto and how they felt society at large viewed black and brown youth from the ghetto.  The group consisted of individuals that were experts in their craft who was given the task of cultivating the budding genius that was in the writings of Nasir Jones.

4.       Organize tasks around a driving question: The tasks were designated based on their talents and their ability to contribute their experiences to the following driving question:   What are some of the impacts on children growing up in an inner city that is plagued by the environments of drugs, perceived lack of opportunity and violence that urban educators need to understand?

5.       Establish a need to know: The media’s portrayal of black and brown youth from the inner city during this time frame was very stereotypically and selectively driven; it was critical that a group of young people begin to give firsthand accounts to better inform urban educators who were allowing the media’s portrayal of inner city youth to begin to influence how they engaged these youth in the classroom.

6.        Encourage voice and choice: The students were given the freedom to tell their story in a manner that resonated with themselves and their peers.  The students chose to speak through Hip-Hop and challenged the urban educators to learn on their terms as opposed to writing a standard report or story.

7.       Incorporate revision and reflection: MC Serch served as the Executive Producer of “Illmatic” and was in charge of reviewing the songs with the Artists and Producers to ensure that the best final product possible was put out to the masses.

8.       Include a public audience: The finished album was released on April 19, 1994 after singles were released and one song featured on a movie soundtrack.  The project received the coveted 5 microphone evaluation from The Source magazine, which at the time was the premiere source of Hip-Hop journalism.

For more insights as to how Hip-Hop can be used as a tool for effective Project Based Learning check out the following video http://bie.org/object/video/keep_it_real and join our weekly #HipHopEd chat every Tuesday from 9-10 pm EST.

“I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death. Beyond the walls of intelligence (schools) life is defined “- Nas, New York State of Mind

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