Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hip Hop Music Changed the World

KingMan's B-Boy Pose

During the summer we return to our unschooling roots.  We explore whatever interests us at the time.  The Hip Hop Theatre Festival is in DC and what a perfect time to delve into the power of an art form that has changed the world. 

Planet B-Boy

KingMan and I kicked off our own Hip Hop festival with the viewing of Planet B-Boy.  We PS3 stream all kinds of fascinating and educational films from Netflix, a homeschool investment that the entire family enjoys.  We learned that some of the most skilled B-boys (I call them break dancers) are in Korea of all places!  Heck there are B-boys in Germany, Japan and France.

The MC: Why We Do It

We also watched The MC: Why We Do It  and learned the difference between a rapper and an MC. Greats like KRS1 and Rakim educated us.  Some of the foulest rappers today, like Little Wayne, get lots of attention from our young people who may not have a clue about what Hip Hop really represents.  I want my son to know that there is a difference between a rapper and an MC, just as there is a difference between rap music and Hip Hop music that reflects the positive culture of Hip Hop.  I learned all of this from KRS1, a Hip Hop genius.  Now KingMan knows that an MC is a storyteller and I urge KingMan to always listen for the message in the music.

Our morning camp commute is an opportunity for me to introduce my son to positive Hip Hop artists.  Right now we are listening to The Roots CD How I Got Over.  We are picking apart the songs Walk Alone and Dear God .  We've identified vocabulary that we need to define and historical films we need to see.  We also got a little education about the Lost Boys of Sierra Leone.  Initially I thought there was a mistake in the lyrics because the only Lost Boys I know of are from the Sudan.  But upon further digging we found that there is a history of child soldiers in Sierra Leone that are "lost" too.

There is so much to learn in Hip Hop music: geography, politics, poetry, and social studies.  Like Jazz, Hip Hop is an American art form created by African Americans that has swept the world.  Why shouldn't we know its history?  As parents I think it is our responsibility to stay "ahead" of our children. How can we lead, guide or direct if we can't hold an intelligent conversation with them about the things they love?

My pint-sized B-boy (I swear I didn't tell him to pose like that!)

We will culminate our week long examination of Hip Hop by attending the Freshest of All Time B-boy/B-Girl competition at Words Beats & Life, an afterschool Hip-Hop program for youth ages 5-23 that engages students interested in Hip-Hop culture.  All of the classes use a unique Hip-Hop curriculum that was developed by working artists.  This curriculum meets National Education Standards.

A perfect segue into a gem I found in the *free* bin at the library:  Hip Hop Poetry and the Classics.  Imagine learning about the power of alliteration with a line from LL Cool J's Ladis Love Cool J.  I hope to cultivate a healthy love for Old School Rap, empowering him with alternatives from so much of the materialistic, over-sexualized, often meaningless rap of today!


  1. This is amazing! I would love to do this with you next summer or just find out more information. To be able to include thing slike hip hop in education is why we do homeschool, NO SCHOOL out there would do this, and even as thorough as you did. You go, Monica!

  2. I'll be posting an updated curriculum plans for 2011-2012 soon. Check it for a hip-hop related curriculum resource developed by a Sankofa homeschool mom's husband.

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