The Unity In Community

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

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

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

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

In Love for our people,

Timothy

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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

#HipHopEd Poetics

By Timothy Jones, #HipHopEd

My rhymin’ is a vitamin held without a capsule

The smooth criminal on beat breaks

Never put me in your box if your s*^! eats tapes

The city never sleeps, full of villains and creeps

That’s where I learned to do my hustle, had to scuffle with freaks

– Nas, NY State of Mind

  nas&mikeAs I was traveling across the country today and thinking about our #HipHopEd chat in celebration of National Poetry Month my mind was on Nas. I have been thinking about Nas a lot and myself as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of “Illmatic.” I look at the progression of Nas as a man from “Illmatic” to “Life is Good” in some ways similar to my development as a young man being shaped by Hip-Hop to becoming an older man who is also committed to also shaping Hip-Hop. I thought about the above lines from “NY State of Mind” as a quick example of Hip-Hop’s poetic value and like great poetry is open to interpretation beyond the identification of the figurative language present in the lyrics.

A #HipHopEd Analysis:

Nas is a continuum in the legacy of impactful Black Poets that have used words to paint the artistry that is our existence in the inner cities and beyond. Think about the first line where Nas uses metaphor to substantiate his rhymes as vitamins without the capsule. The capsule on vitamins masks the often nasty taste and makes the administering of the vitamin easier. Nas is stating that his rhymes are just as beneficial as vitamins but not as easy to take and digest. The year is 1994 and Michael Jackson is cemented as the King of Pop with worldwide appeal. It is typical for new Hip-Hop artists to take shots and or draw comparisons to whoever is looked upon as the being at the top of the rap game. Nas takes to a whole different level by equating his ability to lyrically dance on beat breaks to that of Michael Jackson. Nas was crafty in selecting “Smooth Criminal” as the comparison because in this song, Michael Jackson is dressed like a Gangsta and is even holding a gun. Nas showed the ability to equate himself to Michael Jackson in a line the screams out street credibility.

The next two lines are great examples of personification where Nas mentions a radio eating and the city of New York never sleeping. For those who are old enough to remember cassettes where the tape could get caught within the radio and get tangled and destroyed. New York City has historically been called the city that never sleeps because there is always something to do in the city. Nas took this metaphor that was initially attached to a statement of the pace and life style of the better parts of the city and explained what happens in the hoods within the city because the hoods don’t sleep either. You can also take the smooth criminal reference Nas made as a qualifier of a level of association and distinction from the villains and freaks that he interacted with while growing up in Queens, NY.

This is just a quick example of what you can have students do with a knowledge of figurative language and their inherent knowledge of their coded language and culture coming together to critically examine lyrics. As your students master this process with lyrics that they select and are familiar with you can transition and challenge them with poetry and creative works within any school’s curriculum and watch your student’s critical thinking skills come alive.

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

 

The Use and Abuse of Words, Culture and History

Nicki-Minaj-Lookin-X-300x300by Timothy Jones

We exist in a cycle where it can be perceived that men go to extreme lengths to garner respect and admiration from other men but part of the often twisted measurement of manhood is based on the respect and admiration we receive from women.  Even though as men we may do so many things together, at the end of the day it is what women think of us that goes a long way in validating our sense of self esteem and self worth to ourselves when we look in the mirror.  As men we control so many of the images and messages that are sent to women about what constitutes being a real man.  As men it is one level of pressure to rise above the narrow and often dysfunctional portrayals of what makes a man a man that is presented by men, but when this narrow and dysfunctional portrayal is embraced and presented by women it makes this cycle even more dangerous because in the end we as men want the respect and admiration of women.

Nicki Minaj released a song on February 12th called “Lookin A$$ Nigga” (http://youtu.be/vEZ-e6tBigY). In this song Nicki is identifying the men who can only look from the sidelines during the game of life because they are lacking what is necessary to play in the game.  This includes what it would take to get with Nicki Minaj sexually which is the ultimate determining factor in measuring real niggas versus looking a$$ niggas in the minds of men.  Mobb Deep made the Hip-Hop classic “Shook Ones” http://youtu.be/yoYZf-lBF_U where the hook states “You shook ain’t no such thing as half way crooks, scared to death scared to look, you shook.”  “Shook Ones” can be looked at as a song that also presents paradigms of manhood that is accepted and respected in hood and those that aren’t.  One difference is that in ‘Shook Ones” the measurements of manhood doesn’t include the admiration and respect of women as a qualifier.

Another interesting aspect to “Lookin A$$ Nigga” is the shift in the tone of how Nicki Minaj is classifying and addressing men as Niggas from her song “N.I.G.G.A.S” http://youtu.be/DHtu7ghUCVY  In N.I.G.G.A.S Nicki Minaj is shouting out attributes of men that she admires and even included Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X by desiring to have the chance to thank them for what they started.  The songs are not only linked by the fact that the same artist made both of them, they have the N word in the title, but through Malcolm X.  In “N.I.G.G.A.S” Malcolm X is mentioned with a desire to thank him for what he started.  In “Lookin A$$ Nigga” there is an image of Malcolm holding a rifle looking out the window that was released as possible cover art.

There are several conversations that can and should be had based on an analysis of Nicki Minaj’s latest song:

1.       The impact of perceptions of the hierarchy of manhood amongst men and women

2.       The pattern of dysfunctional relationships that often result from women getting together with the types of men that are described in “Lookin A$$ Nigga” as being the real men or according to the song “niggas.”  You can begin this discussion with Destiny Child’s song “Soldier” http://youtu.be/qFJ3VKnwmJw

3.       Our responsibility to properly preserve and acknowledge our history and elders and how the way we treat our history impacts how others outside our race treat our history and icons.

4.       How the narrative of young adults and adults about manhood can validate and promote the narratives that are coming from our youth about manhood. 

5.       A gender based discussion questioning whether the perceived characteristics of beauty and power possessed by Nicki Minaj makes her narrative more accepted and embraced.

For more insightful discussions involving the intersections of Hip-Hop, Culture, Education and Youth check of #HipHopEd on Twitter every Tuesday from 9-10 pm.  Tweet and or search using the hash tag #HipHopEd to participate in the weekly chats.  Follow me on twitter at @tdj6899

Hip-Hop Project Based Learning: Illmatic

nas_illmatic_pv

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