In this episode Kwasi brings back Dutty Bookman to discuss the movement he has helped dub as the Reggae Revival after a panel at SXSW 2027. He also speaks to Koro Fyah of the Bevel Rock camp about his ABC’s at SXSW as well. Bomani interviews the founder of the Uganda’s Bavubuka Foundation, Babaluku, and their chief archivist Gilbert Daniels about Hip-Hop in Uganda and the Lugaflow movement. Bomani and Kwasi also discuss spirituality in independent music, and how the community discusses things like sin. A must listen!
My favorite place is Sankofa Video and Books Café. We are having a special event on Friday October 2nd from 8pm to 11pm called “Say It Loud!”. Here’s what you do: Go buy the special 2 for $15 tickets at http://sankofasayitloud.eventbrite.com (special price until September 21st). Come early, check out the drinks and the food (the salmon melt there is my favorite, and I drink brown liquor if you’re buying) then wipe your hands and check out the videos and books from throughout the African Diaspora, as well as the largest collection of Black Children’s Books on the East Coast. Then, we will have a community songwriting workshop based on the conversation we have on our facebook event page here https://www.facebook.com/events/932350146830240/ and write a song about it as a group! This is followed immediately by poetry by yours truly, and then my a live performance from my afro-funk-rock-gogo-hiphop band Immaletchufinish! Tell a friend, mark the date on your calendar, and buy your tickets today!
Whenever Tariq Omarii calls, I’m there. Thanks again brother, for inviting me to talk about fatherhood and homeschooling on Views and Vibes. To be clear (I realize I might give a different impression on social media) I am not a “single father”. Olu & Dela’s mom is just as invested and active even though the boys primarily stay with me now. I also hate being considered an “expert”. I’m making it up as I go along, as most parents. This was a great opportunity to highlight the work of the homeschool collectives I work for, and just further the conversation on parenting. Definitely take a look, pass it around, and let me know what you think! (my segment starts around the 15 minute mark)
Whether KRS-1 was screaming “You Must Learn!”, Inspektah Deck admonishing us to “…speak the truth to the young black youth”, Slick Rick teaching lessons in “Hey Young World” or Nas encouraging the youth with “I Can”, hip-hop has always tried (to varying degrees of success) to incorporate the kids. I get asked all the time for hip-hop music and educational material, and have found it a harder to find the music than I expected.
A year ago I asked my social media friends to to give me their favorite rap songs I could play for 3rd graders, and it was even more discouraging. The list of songs I received were incredible, spanning classics and hidden gems from the great hip-hop albums (including De La Soul’s “Me Myself and I” that I actually use in the classroom now). The problem is, “family-friendly” in hip-hop is completely relative. In a genre not afraid of rhyming about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll (even raping corpses at times) the songs that are “soft” in comparison are still to “hard” for an 8 year-old. To that end, I have compiled a few of my most trusted hip-hop resources for kids. This list highlights simply great music that children can find entertaining, to full fledged curriculum with common-core tie in’s and ways to increase your young students knowledge. Here are 4 hip-hop resources 4 your kids.
“More Fraggles than Wiggles, more Soul Train than Thomas the Train, 23 Skidoo is equal parts Dr. Suess and Dr. Dre!”
This is great music for the emotional development of your young person. From his anthems dedicated to childhood favorite activities like “Pillow Fight” or dealing with childhood difficulties like moving to new communities and losing friends in “Chase the Rain”, Skidoo seems to remember what it’s like to be 9. The music and incredibly creative and fun videos offers his poetic insights to make adolescence all better. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo also teaches residencies and was nominated for a Grammy in 2015. With his live instrumentation, and being occasionally upstaged by his daughter MC Fireworks, Skidoo can best be described as hardcore sunshine. Check out his new project The Perfect Quirk and his most popular video “Gotta Be Me”.
“Christylez Bacon offers well-written tales and observations about everyday life that flow smoothly over jazz-influenced tunes” – Curt Fields The Washington Post
Full disclosure, Christylez is my artistic brother. Year ago I would have called him my little brother, as I was one of his many mentors when he began his artistic journey years ago. One of my first teaching experiences was working with Tim Jones (aka Optimist) and the Crushed I.C.E. program at Martha’s Table, where a young Chris was one of our star pupils. I have seen him grow from a teenage lyrical phenomenon, to the unofficial hip-hop laureate of Washington D.C., and one of the most colorful and respected voices in hip-hop music. Whether jamming to his debut project Advanced Artistry, or his Grammy nominated project with Cathy and Marcy Banjo To Beatbox or his new solo EP Hip-Hop Unplugged, your children will be in musical bliss. For an even better multicultural experience, check out one of his Sound Museum events where he takes music from across cultures and mixes them with his unique blend of hip-hop. Christylez is dedicated to making songs that you can play for anyone, a dedication he points out in one of the highlights off of his new project “Children Album Gangsta”.
“As a former educator myself, I understand the importance of developing innovative ways to teach and to make a curriculum come alive for every student in the room. I commend you for all the work you’ve done to develop H.E.L.P and make it come alive in classrooms…” – Barack Obama
Now we are coming to the serious educational material. H.E.L.P. (Hip-Hop Educational Literacy Program) is a series of education workbooks based on classic hip-hop songs. The brain child of educator Gabriel Benn (known in the hip-hop world as Asheru form the Unspoken Heard and Boondocks theme song fame), H.E.L.P. is an educational tool that is quickly gaining popularity in the educational circles. Every educator will tell you that teaching their students is easier when they can make it fun and relative to their real life. H.E.L.P. does that on so many levels, using classic songs as conversation starters for subjects from business skills to creative writing. Breaking down the lyrics of hip-hop luminaries from Rakim, Lauryn Hill, KRS-1 and Ludacris can be fun and educational for all ages. The H.E.L.P. series of books makes this process incredibly easy to follow for any teacher, no matter how fluent you are in hip-hop. Check out their website for lesson plans and pricing. Take a look at Gabe explaining how the process works.
“Flocabulary is the single most compelling way to make students understand the power, magic, and musicality of words.” – Dana Kinsey, 11th & 12th grade teacher
Flocabulary is last on this list, but it is probably the most thorough resource of all the ones on here. Started by artist and educators, and updated on a regular basis, Flocabulary gives you music and study material on numerous subjects in every grade level. These lessons are written to make sure teachers cover important standards in ELA (English Language Arts) and math, but students will hardly notice how much learning they are doing as they keep up with the hip-hop energy and creative word play of their professional produced songs and videos. For those who don’t take our word for it when we explain how the arts are great for all educational settings, their work is thoroughly reviewed and scientifically vetted. It is truly an impressive program they are running at Flocabulary, let alone some amazing artistry. Whether you just use their site for their weekly “The Week in Rap” or their dozens of videos that explain all kinds of educational processes like their most popular online video “Five Things (Elements of a Short Story)“. My sons know many of their songs by heart, and use them when they want to remember all types of educational material. Check out one of their many great videos.
I hope you find these resources as helpful as I do. There are hundreds of artists and educators making music for and about our kids. I’ll keep introducing you to them as I come across them in my own artistic/education journey!
I had the pleasure of getting across the Bay bridge and working with students in Dorchester County this past Spring. Ms. Emily Hill did me the honor of publishing a story about it in the local newsletter. I can’t wait to go back next year!
Dorchester County Public Schools
Every Child A Success!
Henry V. Wagner Jr., Ed.D., Superintendent DATE: May 20, 2015 SDS Young Artist Residency Program: BOMANI Visits 3rd, 4th, & 5th Grades
By Emily Hill
Last week, an artist named Bomani visited our class. He came to teach us about how rhyming can help us remember things. We also learned that there are few ways to rhyme! There is a real rhyme, when the last two letters of the words are the same; cat and hat. There is also a near rhyme, when the words or phrases sound very similar but are not the same. For example, we rhymed “patriot” with “hate we get”. Lastly, there is the rhyme when you put the emphasis on the wrong syllable.
We all got to write a few short rhymes so we could completely understand what the different rhymes are and how to use them. As a class, we helped Bomani create a rhyme about himself, and then we each got to create a rhyme about ourselves. Everyone got a chance to share their personal rhyme with the class. Every time someone got up to read, we had to cheer like it was our favorite singer and Bomani made a huge deal about the person reading. We felt really cool and important. It made reading something in front of our friends so much easier!
Our final rhyme was about our social studies unit on the Revolutionary War. We all started by writing a paragraph about what our class had learned. We then organized the rhyme and created a beat for it. After editing and rehearsing it, we performed it for the 4th grade and they performed theirs for us!
After we finished our performance and watched the 4th grades performance, Bomani asked us to describe the week in one word. The words the 4th and 5th graders used were unique and energetic. These words perfectly fit the week. All of the activities were fun and helpful. In addition, the rhyme we made will help us remember facts for the test on the Revolutionary War.
So, I’m here with my family and co-conspirators putting together this years Malcolm X Birthday Celebration, and we realized why this is such an important event for us. There should be more opportunities in our community to reflect on our shared legacy of struggle against oppression, celebrate our abilities and potential as a people, and recharge our emotional batteries for the long struggle we still have ahead of us. What better way to do that than a party celebrating the life of Malcolm X! As much as our iconic imagery of the man is his fiery speech and opposition to American imperialism, his true goal was to create a strong community. This community exists today, even if not in the size that we would like it. We should celebrate that. The thought of celebrating that has created a level of excitement from everyone involved that is palpable.
We really want to have a great time with with the entire community at Malcolm X’s Birthday Celebration at Sankofa Video & Books Cafe on May 19th. Would you mind helping us do that? There are hundreds of ways you could help, but we’ve narrowed it down to five.
1. Come Out and Party
Come nod your head, listen close, scream “Amen”, hug somebody, shake a hand, shake ya booty, eat some food, drink some drinks, smile at a bunch of people who respect what Malcolm X stood for, and meet someone new.
2. Volunteer at the Party
You can read a speech excerpt, help the setup team, grab some flyers to pass out at your school or job or neighborhood, or a hosts of other things. Contact me ASAP and we’ll welcome you to the team in what ever way you’d like.
3. Tell Your Friends
Just pass this message to people you know would appreciate this event. Even if you can’t make it yourself, pass it to that buddy who likes positive, family friendly entertainment and a good time. Take a moment now. It would just take hitting the “share” or “forward” button. Your friend will thank you later.
4. Buy Tickets to the After Party
If you haven’t seen Head Roc, Radio Rahim, or me do my thang with Immaletchufinish up close and personally, you should just put down a twenty do that. If that’s not enough incentive, the proceeds from the after party are going to fund the free show that happens earlier in the day. All are welcome to come to this event, but if you can help support the event by buying a ticket you are an extra big help to the cause! http://malcolmxcelebration.eventbrite.com/#
For all of our friends and family who are out of town or working during that time, or maybe just want to put a dollar in the bucket, here is your chance to do so! We cannot make events like this happen with out you. Thanks http://malcolmxcelebration.eventbrite.com/#
As always, thank you for supporting the art that supports you. I will see you soon!
I had a wonderful time doing my “Reading, Rhyming & Rhythm” workshop with the 4-6 year old students at the Capital Hill Day School Yoga Camp. That’s right, yoga for the little ones. I didn’t think that was possible at first, considering how much radioactive energy emanates from a 5 year old. But the truth is, their reality is so malleable at this point. Any challenge you give them, or revelation you point them towards is much more than a possibility. It is actually just a reality waiting to happen. Reading On After Zebra for the students at Capital Hill Day School was the highlight of my week. … Continue Reading