5 Thoughts about Black Thought


While traveling back from New York yesterday on the train I was passing time by going through my social media and came across some posts with a free style from Black Thought #FREESTYLE087. I have headphones on so I click on the link with a usual expectation of a great rhyme because it’s Black Thought.  Before I clicked on the link my anticipation was heightened because the video was longer than 10 minutes and it was with Flex so this means that the whole time is the rhyme without any interview.  So, picture me sitting on the train in the quiet car not knowing that I am about to listen to a lyrical keynote and sermon that inspire me to want to have a Pentecostal pedagogy moment.  Here are five take-a-ways from this excellent exhibition of artistry, knowledge and lyricism.

  1. The Beat: The beat selected for the freestyle is “Burn” by Mobb Deep. Mobb Deep is known for coming with some of the hardest beats that just make your face twist and make even the most docile individual feel that they go hard (at least for the length of the song).  This to some may seem like a diversion from the Black Thought that many people know but I think it was masterfully and purposely done.  We also lost Prodigy this year and what a way to show homage to a fallen Hip-Hop brother.
  2. The Cadence of the Rhyme: Black Thought’s cadence as he delivers his rhyme sits in the pocket of the track like a sampled instrument. The ability to remain constant with the flow and slightly breathe to place emphasis on a word or phrase to let you know that you just heard a punch line is nothing short of amazing.  I would love to hear this freestyle acapella to fully appreciate the rhythm of the cadence.
  3. The Repetition Factor: This freestyle rhyme is so dense in many places that it is virtually impossible to hear and appreciate everything in one listen. On one listen you may just be amazed by the fact that Black Thought has the lung capacity to flow for the length of 2.5 songs without his voice breaking from a lack of breath.  In the initial listen, you will hear some punch lines that make your face scrunch up and then you go back to listen more intently to absorb the black thoughts of Black Thought.
  4. The Educational Value: When you begin to dissect this rhyme, you hear everything from Slang, Spirituality, Substance Abuse, Science to Shakespeare. Imagine the conversation starters that are embedded in this rhyme that can benefit us as a community if we simply sat down together and listed to the rhyme and began to converse.  The beauty of this work of art is what you hear that moves you is dependent on where you are emotionally, mentally and spiritually as you listen.  We can listen together and hear different things and both of us be right in our hearing because the life and power of the words resonate differently based on the condition of the soil of our hearts and minds.
  5. The Bars that raise the Bar: An estimated 240 + bars dropped by Black Thought (https://songbpm.com/mobb-deep-burn?q=mobb%20deep%20-%20burn 96 BPM translates to a 4/4 bar every 2.5 seconds which is 24 bars every minute so in 10 minutes you would have an estimated 240 bars) has raised the bar of what it means to freestyle and the ability to infuse knowledge in a way that is comprehensive, creative and palatable to the average listener. Jay-Z made a song called “Lyrical Exercise” where he expresses the art of rhyming using physical exercise metaphors.  If we extend this metaphor then lyrically we physically witnessed the fitness of one of the best in the business.

Timothy Jones is an educator, writer, Hip-Hop pundit and the Chief Visionary Officer of HipHopEd follow me on Twitter @tdj6899


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.


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

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


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.


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.

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


[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…


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

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:

Masta Ace / Ed OG A’s & E’s:

Smoothe The Hustler “The Art of Rap” Count the MCs:

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


Nas’ “illmatic”: Lessons in Reflections Curriculum Sample


By Timothy Jones, Chief Visionary Officer, #HipHopEd

As a 20 year old Nasir Jones wrote and recorded on of the most renowned albums in the 40 years of contemporary Hip-Hop history. “Illmatic” is an album that can be viewed as a coming of age narrative where Nas speaks from being 10 years old on “Halftime” by saying, “Back in 83 I was an MC sparking..” to a 20 year old young adult on “Life’s a B&^%h” by saying, “ I woke early on my born day, I’m twenty..” The album cover features Nas at 7 years graphically imposed with the ghetto behind him but you can see the ghetto scene through the picture as well. This duality of the image of the ghetto being visible behind and through a young Nas symbolizes the power of the influence that the environments and neighborhoods are having on children as they grow. The ability of Nas to articulate his story with a combination of accepting and challenging his reality is a skill that fosters a resilience that all young people need to develop.

“The Lessons in Reflections” is a curriculum designed to invite youth in middle school to look at the narrative of “Illmatic” through select quotes from 8 of the 10 songs on the album. The songs “One Love” and “Represent” do not have selected quotes but the titles of these songs will be used to develop activities for the youth. These quotes were selected on the ability to use the words to challenge young people to better understand where Nas was coming from and for them to view their own neighborhoods to assess the influence that their environments can have on their development. The reflection process is one where the youth will look at themselves as individuals and as members of their communities. The youth will begin to evaluate what aspects of their environment are obstacles versus opportunities based on how they see themselves and how they want their lives to play out in the future.

The content of “Illmatic” is graphic and discusses themes such as drug use, women and violence and sex in a manner that is not appropriate for a classroom or after school setting to be played in its entirety. This is another reason why the quotes were selected because the over arching theme of evaluating oneself as they develop within a given environment is a lesson that young people must learn and understand as they transition through the various stages of development as a child and an adolescent. The focus of the curriculum will be targeted at helping young people navigate through the “Industry (competence) vs. Inferiority” stage according to Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages. This stage is where the young people begin to have their world expanded and the influence of seeking the acceptance of their peers grows in importance. This stage also introduces young people to their environments in a way that requires them to determine their place within their environment as they begin to spend more time away from home.

On the next series of pages is an outline of the selected quotes and suggested guided questions for the rap sessions and activities that will be designed to engage middle school/high school youth through Nas’ “Illmatic”: Lessons in Reflections.

Nas “Illmatic” Quotes (Grades 6th-12th)

1. The Genesis
True indeed, knamsayin’, but when it’s real you doin’ this
Even without a record contract, knamsayin‘”

What are some things that you like to do that could possibly lead to careers? Is the purpose that you are doing these activities for money, careers or for the love and how it makes you feel?

2. NY State of Mind
“I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death
Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined
I think of crime when I’m in a New York state of mind”

We know that natural sleep is an important bodily function. Sleep in this sense means to move without thinking or to not pay attention. The reference of sleep being a cousin of death is showing the relation that sleeping in the slang sense can have with death. We can also look at sleep as wasting time and how wasting time and behaving in certain ways can mean the death of our dreams. Create a handout that allows the students to create a list of statements where the complete the following: I sleep when I _____ instead of doing ______. Have at least five of these statements with possible different fonts.

Beyond the walls of intelligence life is defined means that there is always more that we can learn because our intelligence is limited to what we have learned and life is so much more. This is a call for all of us to become lifelong learners because it takes a life time to learn about life. This quote can challenge you to look at the world through a balance of your imagination and your intellect. What do you see with your imagination that you can use your intellect to make a reality? How do you increase your intellect? How do you increase your imagination? How can you define life? Create a handout with two pair of glasses. One labeled “Intellect” and the other “Imagination.” Students will list how their lives are defined by each and then on the bottom of their list they will make some observations as to how the definitions of life can become one in the same as they increase their intellect and foster their imagination. (I&I)

What do you think about when you think about Washington DC? What is the DC state of mind from your view? Use a storyboard handout with three squares and lines on the side of each square. The students will draw a scene and explain what is taking place on the side of each scene. (You can substitute Washington DC with your home town)

“Life is parallel to hell but I must maintain”

Parallel can mean equal to or similar to but parallel in math means: “Lines are parallel if they lie in the same plane, and are the same distance apart over their entire length” This definition means that no matter how bad life may be it never touches what we view as hell or eternal destruction. This mindset or point of view can help us maintain. What are some of the things that you see in your life or the lives of people that you know that you believe are bad? How do you maintain (continue) to have a positive outlook on life in spite of the negatives you see in life? Create a landscape handout where the word “Life” is written down both sides of the margin. Then have a set of parallel lines either running diagonal or through the center. One part of the handout will be representations of decisions that can result in lost freedoms and opportunities in life. The other side will be representations of decisions that result in obtaining freedoms and opportunities in life.

*This is a sample set of activities for these two songs.  If you are interested in partnering in the development and or implementation of this curriculum please contact Timothy Jones tdj6899@gmail.com