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Youth Culture Power

A #HipHopEd Guide to Building Teacher-Student Relationships and Increasing Student Engagement


Jason D. Rawls and John Robinson

In our schools, hip-hop culture is the dominant culture among the students. In Youth Culture Power: A #HipHopEd Guide to Building Teacher-Student Relationships and Increasing Student Engagement, Jason D. Rawls and John Robinson, educators and hip-hop artists with experience in the urban classrooms, focus their efforts through Hip-Hop Based Education (HHBE). They argue that hip-hop culture could be useful in building relationships and building student engagement.

The approach to achieve this is Youth Culture Pedagogy (YCP). YCP is based in a foundation of reality pedagogy (Emdin, 2014), culturally responsive pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995), and HHBE (Hill, 2009; Petchauer, 2009). In this volume, the authors lay the groundwork for YCP and how they envision its use within the classroom.

In Youth Culture Power, the authors put forth their C.A.R.E. Model of youth pedagogy to help teachers create a positive learning environment by building relationships and lessons around students’ own culture. Instead of forcing students to give up the things they frequent, Rawls and Robinson feel teachers should discuss them and when possible, use them in lessons. The purpose of this book is to present a fresh take on why educators should not discount the culture of youth within the classroom.

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The journey to complete this mission of a book on hip-hop education has been long and arduous. However, it originally just started out as an album. John and I both did not initially begin our careers in the field of education. Our paths crossed in the world of underground hip-hop in the late 90’s. Our first album, The 1960’s Jazz Revolution Again, was a project that was born out of our mutual respect for jazz music and jazz culture. With us both being hip-hop kids, we also wanted to infuse hip-hop into this project about jazz music. We both grew up as big fans of hip-hop artists who sampled jazz into their work. This influenced both of our careers. I had begun using the term “Jazz-Hop” to describe boom-bap hip-hop with jazz influences. So that is how we began describing our first album, The 1960’s Jazz Revolution Again.

When creating that album, we studied both the music and culture to help immerse our creative pallets for an album which would be the true definition of Jazz-Hop. John and I had worked on several songs before, but this was our first album project. We wanted it to set a standard. While creating that album, our process for creativity involved phone discussions about jazz greats who influenced much of our music. As we created that album, most of it was done while we weren’t in the same room. It was a good process and it worked for that...

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