Nas’ “illmatic”: Lessons in Reflections Curriculum Sample

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By Timothy Jones, Chief Visionary Officer, #HipHopEd

Overview
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

 

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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]

Shawn Carter/Jay-Z & the 4Cs

By: Timothy Jones for #HipHopEd

jay pics

In the 21st Century there has been a concerted effort to promote the message that it takes more than just a mastery of academic subjects to help a young person succeed in college and the workplace.  www.p21.org is a partnership organization that has created an equation of the skills that young people must acquire to be successful in the 21st Century.  The first variable in the equation is (3R) and this variable is based on how the following words have been historically pronounced, reading, writing, and arithmetic (rythmetic).  The second variable is (4C) and this variable is creativity (innovation), critical thinking (problem solving), collaboration (team work), and communication.

We need a “classroom mindset” where we will begin to look for “teachable moments” throughout everything that we encounter and or experience in life.  If learning shouldn’t be confined to the hours spent at school, then why should what we use to teach be confined to the materials that currently exist within the school?  The classroom mindset promotes the duality of being a student and a teacher.  The learning process is truly achieved when we show the ability to apply and or teach the lessons that we have learned throughout our lives.  A teachable moment is when an opportunity presents itself to reveal a lesson that lies within an analysis of media, behavior, thoughts, or culture as a whole.

As a developer of after school programs I focus on infusing elements within the 4Cs into my workshops and activities because most students do want to go to after school programs that mimic the content and approach of the school day.  The goal is to help students apply the 3Rs into project based learning opportunities that foster the 4Cs.  This provides a road map of transferable skills that helps students understand how they can bring the 4Cs into the conventional classroom and excel in the 3Rs.  This creates students that are confident, competent, conscious, and consistent throughout their experiences in life’s classroom.  So in essence, the www.p21.org (3R+4C) = youth who R 4C (Confidence, Competence, Consciousness, and Consistency)

Imagine a workshop that develops student’s 4Cs by studying the work inside and outside of the vocal booth of Jay-Z.  Jay-Z is many things and his impact is debated from but not limited to, the corners of Marcy Projects in Brooklyn New York, to Georgetown University and the White House in Washington DC.  The following is a proposed outline of how Jay-Z embodies each of the 4Cs and from the outline it wouldn’t be difficult to develop activities to engage students in the development and or enhancement of the 4Cs:

Creativity: is defined as the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.  An example of Jay-Z’s creativity is in the song  “Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)” and a portion of the introduction states “I’m leading the league in at least six statistical categories right now best flow, most consistent, realest stories, most charisma, I set the most trends, and my interviews are hotter Holla.”   In this portion of the song Jay-Z lays out a framework where MCs can be judged using a set of statistics that paint a picture of the total impact of an artist.  This development of a set of statistics is similar to the way a basketball player may be judged by points per game, rebounds per game, field goal percentage, three point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and assists per game.  These six statistical categories give a full picture of the overall impact a play has on a game from the offensive stand point.  Jay-Z’s six statistics provides a similar landscape for the artistic assessment of an Artist’s impact on the rap game beyond merely sales or popularity for the moment.   Imagine the activities that can developed for students using this example of Jay-Z’s creativity to foster their own.

Critical Thinking:  is defined as disciplined thinking that is clear, rationale, open-minded, and informed by evidence.  An example of Jay-Z’s critical thinking is the first verse of “Moment of Clarity” which states:

Pop died, didn’t cry, didn’t know him that well

Between him doin heroin and me doin crack sales

With that in the eggshell, standin at the tabernacle

Rather the church, pretendin to be hurt, wouldn’t work

So a smirk was all on my face

Like d@#n, that man’s face is just like my face

So pop, I forgive you for all the s%^# that I lived through

It wasn’t all your fault, homey you got caught

Into the same game I fought, that Uncle Ray lost

My big brothers and so many others I saw

I’m just glad we got to see each other

Talk and re-meet each other

Save a place in heaven ’til the next time we meet forever!”

In this verse Jay-Z is very honest with the change in his feelings about his father not being there for him while he was growing up.  The initial emotion of not caring due to not knowing the man that was his father to identifying with the physical dimensions of the face to connecting to the life’s journey that they both travelled on allowed Jay-Z to see his father as a victim and not just a perpetrator.  Imagine the activities that can be developed with students (many who are disconnected from their fathers) using this example of Jay-Z’s critical thinking to foster their own.

Collaboration: Is when something is created by working jointly with another or others.  There are countless examples throughout Jay-Z’s career within music and outside of music where collaboration has taken place.  The example I want to use is the Best of Both Worlds album that Jay-Z recorded with R-Kelly in 2002.  This was a huge under taking because both artists were at the top of Hip-Hop and R&B respectively.  Fast forward to today where R&B and Hip-Hop artists collaborating on songs is common place; you have to take a moment and reflect back on the first full album collaboration to create a sound that would expand the reach of both genres.   Imagine the activities that can developed for students using this example of Jay-Z’s collaboration to foster their own.

Communication: is when something is imparted, interchanged, or transmitted.  If you think about Jay-Z and everything that he has been able to accomplish and what seems to motivate him it can be summed up in the statement “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business man!”  This play on words makes for a catchy lyric but this also serves as an affirmation of one’s self worth and a personal thesis statement.   This ability to communicate has created opportunities for Jay-Z that seems to be limitless based on what he has been able to accomplish and he is showing no signs of slowing down.    Imagine the activities that can developed for students using this example of Jay-Z’s communication to foster their own.

 Timothy Jones is content developer for #HipHopEd a weekly twitter chat that takes place every Tuesday from 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm.  If you are interested in developing programs that develop the 4Cs please contact me at tdj6899@gmail.com and follow me on twitter at @tdj6899

#HipHopEd “Profanity Free Mixtape”

Curated by Amil Cook and Timothy Jones for #HipHopEd

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On November 13, 2012 #HipHopEd featured its weekly chat session, which was operating off the topic, “Creating and Evaluating a #HipHopEd “Profanity Free Mixtape.” This was an important topic for #HipHopEd to tackle because of the realities that Hip-Hop educators face in teaching our students through Hip Hop music and culture. This chat was not trying to devalue and delegitimize the substantive value of Hip-Hop music that contains profanity and delves into seedier topics. This chat was actually the response to the continuous requests for Hip-Hop tracks that could be played in schools around our country and classrooms throughout the world, without creating ethical and professional dilemmas for these much needed and highly valued educators.

As educators and adults, many if not all of us have learned how to speak effectively in the various settings that we find ourselves in, from our classrooms, office suites, homes, and our neighborhoods.  This instinctive ability to “switch up” is something that many of our young people based on the language that they hear and speak at school and in their neighborhoods.  If you include the language in the Hip-Hop that many young people listen to and the movies that they watch, they are bombarded with profanity filled narratives that can limit the range of how youth use words to communicate.

The #HipHopEd “Profanity Free Mixtape” is a resource for educators to allow young people to hear Hip-Hop that met and or meets the musical aesthetics test of the day based on overall production, content, and delivery.  The songs on this Mixtape can also serve as examples for students who believe that you cannot effectively rhyme without using profanity.  In putting together the Profanity Free Mixtape, we wanted to be conscious of trying to focus on music by Artists with a level of commercial success so that students wouldn’t dismiss the Mixtape as an underground effort of Artists who never achieved mainstream success.

For this endeavor “Profanity Free” is focused on language with some consideration for subject matter.  We know that you can have a song with questionable subject content without being profane and in these circumstances we as the Executive producers of the project made the decision as to whether to include the song on the list.  We also wanted a list of songs that are absent of profanity which is different than edited versions of songs that are on the radio and are on sale at retailers such as Walmart.

Out of this chat, came numerous song suggestions that have been collected in one place for educators, Hip Hop aficionados and others to enjoy, share and teach with. Here is the link to #HipHopEd’s “Profanity Free” Mixtape Edcanvas, an intuitive educational media platform, that contain profanity free Hip Hop track in each of its tiles. Here is the link to #HipHopEd’s “Profanity Free” Mixtape YouTube Playlist of profanity free Hip Hop tracks.
It is our hope that more songs will be suggested and included to this dynamic and live database of profanity free Hip Hop tracks. If you have a suggestion, comment or find profanity in any of the songs let us know.

For those who don’t know, #HipHopEd is a Twitter hashtag that hosts interactive chats on a range of topics at the intersections of Hip Hop and education. These chats take place every Tuesday from 9pm to 10pm EST. Unlike many other educational Twitter chats, #HipHopEd embraces the freestyle, the cypher and inclusion of everyone in attendance. Timothy Jones (@tdj6899) serves as the Master of Ceremony, tweeting out the week’s topic on Tuesday mornings, inviting special guests and community members.

#HipHopEd was created by two top tier leading educators, Brandon Frame (@brandonframe) and Dr. Christopher Emdin (@chrisemdin). #HipHopEd has organically grown into a significant community, mission and movement, intertwining and advancing education and Hip Hop simultaneously. The community’s response to #HipHopEd was so overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic that other participants and leaders were brought into #HipHopEd’s leadership team. Make sure you get involved with #HipHopEd and come through the weekly Tuesday night chats from 9pm to 10pm EST. Alright ya’ll, it’s time to get it! Let’s keep building!

The Words I Never Said

“Its so loud inside my head with words I should’ve said.” Lupe Fiasco

Music has a way of pulling the triggers of your mind and heart.  Once the trigger is pulled what comes out is what was in your mind and heart before the song began. So did the music influence your thoughts and feelings or did it just wake the sleeping giants inside of you?  This song pulled some triggers inside my head and heart and these are the words I never said:

1. I am a Christian who follows Jesus Christ and believes the bible is the true and living word of God.  The actions of the collective church have diluted the perception and reverence that the world has towards God and Christ. This makes it  more of a necessity to distinguish myself from a “Sunday Saint” or someone who believes in God but not the bible.  I am an imperfect man seeking perfection through God’s Holy Spirit residing inside of me.

2. Attempting to use Hip-Hop music and culture to teach or do anything else doesn’t make you Hip-Hop or a part of the culture.  Hip-Hop music and culture is being accepted in circles of academia because of the catastrophic failure of traditional education to remain relevant and engaging to its core audience within inner cities across America and beyond.  I’m not questioning the sincerity of an individual educator or writer, but the collective establishment’s embracing the culture and deeming their own colleagues the experts.  Ask yourself if Hip-Hop was no longer as popular and another music genre drove popular culture would you still be looking to use and or participate with Hip-Hop?

3. There must be a space created for men to feel and heal. Society has raised us to embrace the ideology that states that anger is the only acceptable emotion to express without a questioning of your manhood.  Think of the adjective we place in front of love, I got mad love for you. Think of the violent slang terms that describe making love or having sex? It has gotten so bad amongst young men that they will start a statement with “no homo” to say or do anything that expresses an emotion.  We need the space and methodology to heal in order to be real with ourselves and others.

4. The love, commitment, and passion that I have for my people should not be viewed as racist, prejudice, or radical.  Multi-Culturalism and diversity doesn’t always mean equality because all cultures or parties are not coming to the table of brotherhood as equal partners. The causes for the collective can not overshadow my commitment to the causes that disproportionately impact my people of color.

5. Hip-Hop is constantly being analyzed but rarely evaluated.  There was a value within Hip-Hop that is not as needed today or is it?  In the beginning as Hip-Hop came on the scene, it was responsible for speaking for a community that hadn’t had the opportunity to speak and be heard to society as a whole.  We need to create a system to evaluate today’s Hip-Hop and stop merely debating various analysis of the content.  What is the value of the content of many of today’s most popular Hip-Hop songs is the true question.

 THINK To Hear Is New Knowledge! Can You Hear the Words that I Write?