Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Austin, Texas to attend the SXSW Edu conference, which was fantastic. It was great to hear from educators all over the country to see what they’re doing to improve scholars’ education or creating dialogue on what’s missing in some of our spaces within education. I attended sessions on how to discuss racism with students, parents and coworkers, how to handle social media from an admin point of view and a lot of other great creative ways to redesign education.
My favorite session I attended "Hip-Hop Pedagogy" which showcased the talented students of High School of Recording Arts in St. Paul, MN. The session was more than just watching teenagers perform their art, but they were truly inspirational with how much work they put into their music and also how much they want to seek change within our country. I think we need to listen to the next generation a little more because they seem to have figured it out better than whatever we’re trying to do.
High School of Recording Arts had an hour and a half session where they had some of their most exciting students perform for us of their own original productions, explained the process of making their type of music, but also explaining how the school works on their own redesign educational structure. I couldn’t believe how talented these teenagers were. I went to a performing arts school, we had some decent talented students but I never sat there and though, "wow, they could get a record contract right now." These students are definitely prepping to begin a career in music, someway and somehow.
(Terrible journalism ahead. I definitely did NOT expect to be blown away by the performances and didn’t take any notes. Sorry!)
One student, Lil Royals, only 15 years old, sounded exactly like the next Kendrick Lamar/Tupac's hybrid. He wasn’t even alive when Tupac was on the airwaves, however he’s able to connect with Tupac's lyrics and his messages and wanted to continue what he started. He explained to the crowd that he studied Tupac’s lyricism, word play, and craft, but also believed that he’s meant to use his talents to help change the world the way Tupac used his. Listening to Tupac today, verses the 90’s and when the media tried to pin him as some bad influence on listeners, he was truly speaking the gospel on racism, police brutality and how we can change within our community. And the fact this young man wants to follow his footsteps, it truly remarkable. I hope he’s able to accomplish his dreams and his words can touch more than just a small listeners.
Rashad 502, is a reincarnated of early Chance the Rapper. I remember how excited I was for hip-hop when I first listened to Chance’s “Good Ass Intro,” and that’s exactly how I felt when I heard Rashad’s “Cheesecake”. It’s that clever wordplay mixed with pop/hip-hop that can be fun and catchy to listen to. He certainly a hit on his hand.
The last artist to close the set, was Lakame, who Prince clearly had a strong influence on him. Even though is lyrics being age appropriate on "Million Kisses," it was very reminisces of Prince’s sexy flirtation music. With his falsetto, catchy lyrics, and smooth dance moves, he could give Bruno Mars a run for his money.
The students closed their session by putting together a video of their fight of school violence and gun control. It was powerful and with a clear message that they are ready for a change for not only their own community but for the entire country. They will also march with Parkland students in DC on March 24. It makes me so inspired and excited for the next generation that these young minds are who can’t even vote, are letting their voices be heard and they’re sick of seeing their friends/family/kids their age and younger being killed by gun violence and our government doesn’t seem to want to make any steps towards making it safer for us. I hope they continue to fight for what they believe in and we see them actively make sure those in the white house are held accountable for not making any changes.