Just reached home from the IoE HipHopEdSoc launch. It’s Monday, nearly midnight and although the days teaching had me nodding off into my book on the Northern line to Euston, I've returned home eyes wide and mind buzzing from an evening of conversation and presentations with some of London's finest Hip-hop educators.
Following in the same vein as the HipHopEd seminars this first monthly meeting featured UK rap legend TY. A veteran of the UK scene and still a very active live and studio artist, TY is less well known for his work in education. Speaking on the cathartic effect of providing workshops that 'use rap as an excuse for changing the world', TY spoke of focussing on understanding and developing body language, presence, articulation, movement, knowledge of self and your environment. Work that aims to extend the range of communication skills that the young participants are able to harness and utilise for their self-development and empowerment.
TY has been committed in his support of HipHopEd and shared insightful observations on his own journey with Hip-hop as he shared some of the exercises from his workshops with the help of willing volunteers from the audience. Salute.
TY's presentation followed on from an epic Q&A after rapper and workshop leader Shay D gave an impassioned presentation on her deep and diverse work running workshops in a number of challenging environments with young people between 16 & 25. Clear that she is not a 'teacher' Shay spoke of the extended relationships she manages with young people, often involving them in other projects through her activity as a rapper and promoter with The Lyrically Challenged collective.
The debate that followed focused on the distinctions between teachers and otr educators as Shay freestyled through a range of examples of the work she has done using the creative writing and expressiveness of Hip-hop to help young people talk about the complex issues they face in their lives and the responsibility that comes with facilitating that work.
There was some discussion about the authenticity of using Hip-hop that is synonymous with anti-authoritarianism within authoritarian institutions and the potential for Hip-hop to be a vehicle for self-empowerment or social change that led to a discussion about the personal and transformative effect of the work on the young people involved that relies on an instinctive approach to practice that is informed by emotional literacy more than academic theory.
Darren Chetty opened the presentations speaking about this Power To The Pupils project that initiated debate about sampling and 'crate digging' based on a lesson he had done with his students on Will I Am that traced the original sample in the Will I Am song back to a Tamil movie soundtrack that Darren shared with his pupils.
The evening was kicked off with a reading of the HipHopEd manifesto as well as a little recapping of the HipHopEd journey towards this latest manifestation at the IoE.
Ending with a presentation from rapper and special needs teacher Solo Cypher on the work of B.F. Skinner, HipHopEdSoc delivered a dope mix of conversations, presentations, dialogue and discourse, that bumped like DJ sets. Everyone's presentations and contributions to the dialogue shed more light on the diversity of practice, pedagogy and purpose that exists amongst those working with HipHopEd.
The vibes on the evening were familial, and like all good families, the hiphoped family can find difference and disagreement within each other's approaches and beliefs. It is a great testimony to the UK HipHopEd movement that it provides a space for sharing and debating these varied beliefs and practices, and at times on the night the temperature and volume of the debate was raised. Not everyone attending HipHopEdSoc possessed or desires to possess the etiquette of formal academic debate, and as such there were times of beautiful anarchy, with voices clashing, colliding and battling to be heard. But, that is what makes these hiphopEd events so refreshing and engaging because a HipHopEd event is not your average teachmeet, cpd opportunity or university society, it is a hub for a growing number of hip-hop heads, from the streets, schools, universities and all places in between, finding time to share and contribute to a widening field of practice, centred on a shared passion for both education and Hip-hop culture. Good people doing good work for good reason.
HipHopEd is the space to be.