Hip-Hop Genius 2.0: Remixing High School Education

PDF Hip-Hop Genius 2.0: Remixing High School Education Hardcover – February 15, 2022

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Many educators already know that hip-hop can be a powerful tool for engaging students. But can hip-hop save our schools—and our society? Hip-Hop Genius 2.0 introduces an iteration of hip-hop education that goes far beyond studying rap music as classroom content. Through stories about the professional rapper who founded the first hip-hop high school and the aspiring artists currently enrolled there, Sam Seidel lays out a vision for how hip-hop’s genius—the resourceful creativity and swagger that took it from a local phenomenon to a global force—can lead to a fundamental remix of the way we think of teaching, school design, and leadership. This 10-year anniversary edition welcomes two new contributing authors, Tony Simmons and Michael Lipset, who bring direct experience running the High School for Recording Arts. The new edition includes new forewords from some of the most prominent names in education and hip-hop, reflections on ten more years of running a hip-hop high school, updates to every chapter from the first edition, details of how the school navigated the unprecedented complexities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and uprising in response to the murder of George Floyd, and an inspiring new concluding chapter that is a call to action for the field.

Foreword:

Like many people who came up with a variety of new habits during the global pandemic known as the coronavirus or COVID-19, I came up with my own secret obsession. Along with baking copious amounts of banana bread and bingeing on streaming services (shout out to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Own, and Hulu), I found a YouTube channel developed by a set of twin brothers from the Gary, Indiana, area—Tim and Fred Williams. The 22-year-old African American young men’s channel is titled “TwinstheNewTrend,” and they use the channel to react to all manner of music from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Because they grew up in their grandparents’ strictly religious household, the only music they regularly listened to was gospel music. On their channel they listen to rock, R&B, country, late ’80s and ’90s hip-hop, and even opera (at least Pavarotti has caught their attention). The young men’s reactions are so genuine and enthusiastic that they now have close to 1 million subscribers. Even former President Obama is a subscriber and did a session with them on YouTube. The first time they listened to Stevie Wonder they could not contain their excitement. Their response to Phil Collins’ classic, “In the Air Tonight” went viral and actually landed the Phil Collins song back on the Billboard charts. Dolly Parton was clearly tickled at the response to her classic, “Jolene.” However, the reaction that got me hooked on the twins was Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road.” The boys demonstrate excitement about so many aspects of the song—the harmony, the vocal prowess of singer Wanya Morris, the passion, and the acapella ending. So impressed with the twins’ reaction, I have used it in scholarly presentations to suggest it is exactly this kind of reaction every teacher would love to have from students. I point out to education researchers and teachers that the twins are astute at moving across linguistic registers, they describe the song using similes and metaphors. They display facility with what might be considered “standard” English and musical terminology, describing listening to the track as “mandatory” and expressing surprise by asking, “They goin’ a capella?” When the twins finish listening and reacting to a song they love, they often refer to it as a “banger.”

Acknowledgments:

We would especially like to thank the members of the HSRA community involved in this project directly—Joey Cienian, Walter Cortina, Morgan Welch, Haben Gebreghergish, Tiki Blackmore, and Amanda Galloway—each of whom contributed in their own ways. Joey, thank you for your swift ability to succinctly and accurately capture the nature of the High School for Recording Arts’ growth over the last 10 years. Walter, thank you for bringing a tenacious exuberance to this project. Minnesota and now the readers of this book will be better for your work and for you sharing your story. Haben, thank you for supporting Walter and Jon in telling Walter’s powerful story and for being a beacon of teaching excellence in a school system that often diverts incredible teachers away from the students HSRA serves. You choose HSRA every day and you choose our students every day, and for that we are grateful. Tiki and Amanda, thank you both so much for your leadership—and then helping us track down the documentation—of the community meetings held by the school in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Thank you both, also, for being the rock-star facilitators of learning that you are. HSRA’s youth would not be so well-served without the two of you in their lives. Collectively, we owe a big debt of gratitude to Jon Bacal for his patience, dedication to working with young people, and kindness throughout a long editing process. We would also like to thank Martha Diaz, Bronwen Low, Isaac Ewell, Karen Pittelman, Dicky Cluster, Adria Steinberg, and Sunanna Chand for reading early drafts of this edition and giving judicious critical feedback and warm encouragement in perfect parity. Your individual intellects and experiences, contributions to the world of hip-hop education, editing chops, and willingness to call us out on those areas of documentation that we may have missed or gotten wrong helped us produce a stronger final product. And thank you to Sophia Mathies, for your work in producing a manuscript worthy of and conforming to professional standards of publication formatting. Our appreciation to Tom Koerner, Carlie Wall, and the team at Rowman & Littlefield for working with us to bring this new edition to print and digital life.​
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