Hip Hop and Spoken Word Beyond the Classroom Walls
Chapter 1. The Audacity of Breaking
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THE AUDACITY OF BREAKING
Hip hop is…the break beats you get broken with. –Yasiin Bey (Mos Def )
Kendrick Lamar performs at Brian Mooney’s school in New Jersey on June 8, 2015. ← 1 | 2 →
I Remember You Was Conflicted
When generational icon and Grammy Award–winning Hip Hop artist Kendrick Lamar visited our school, I kept thinking about all the schools around the world that deserved an experience like this, too. I thought about kids from neighboring Jersey City high schools who wished Kendrick were visiting their school that morning. I was simultaneously full of hope and despair. I felt a mix of gratitude and anger. As Kendrick says on his most recent album, “I remember feeling conflicted.” That’s because many schools, administrators, and districts are unwilling to embrace the educational potential of Hip Hop music and culture.
When Kendrick visited my classroom and listened to my students read poetry, he spoke about an experience in second grade when he used the word “audacity” correctly in a sentence. His teacher, astonished, told him he was going to be a poet. Jokingly, I asked Kendrick whether he had rhymed “audacity” with another word. He laughed and said no.
I find it ironic that “audacity” is the word Kendrick used in second grade. Audacity means “the willingness to take bold risks.” In many ways, that’s what teachers must do in the...
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