The Hip Hop Education Center (HHEC) will pay tribute to some of the pioneers and contributors to hip hop education with its first annual Extra Credit Awards tonight (November 11). HHEC will honour individuals and their organisations that focus primarily on music education/production that is improving educational outcomes for students. The areas HHEC focuses on are: STE(A)M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), social and emotional learning, academic literacy, and high school graduation rates.
The inaugural event will kick off the ‘We The People for Hip Hop Education’ in Public Schools. ‘We The People for Hip Hop Education’ is a petition requesting that the Obama Administration designate hip hop culture as a valuable and uniquely American national treasure worthy of being taught and practiced in all K-12 (primary and secondary) public schools.
The emcee for the evening will be best-selling author, award-winning filmmaker, rapper, and professor MK Asante. Honourees in attendance are:
- Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey – J Dilla Foundation
- Afrika Bambaataa – Zulu Nation (an international hip hop awareness group)
- Christopher Emdin & The GZA – Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (utilises the power of hip hop music and culture to introduce youth to the wonder and beauty of science)
- Thomas Alavarez & Rob Jackson – Beats, Rhymes and Life (aims to improve mental health and social outcomes among marginalised youth by using hip hop as a catalyst for positive change and development)
- Dr. Olajide Williams, Artie Green, Easy AD & Doug E. Fresh – Hip Hop Public Health (focuses on closing the ‘engagement’ gap between public health communication and urban life)
- Donnie Smith & Che “Rhymefest” Smith – Donda’s House (supports young aspiring artists in Chicago)
- David T. Ellis – High School for Recording Arts (provides youth the opportunity to achieve a high school diploma through the exploration and operation of the music business and other creative endeavours)
- DJ Stephen Levitin, Pierce Freelon & Dr. Mark Katz – Beat Making Lab (collaborates with communities all around the world donating laptops, microphones and software to community centres and conducting two-week residencies with talented youth)
- Toki Wright – Hip Hop Studies Program, McNally Smith College of Music (designed to help artists grow and develop their skills as writers, producers and performers)
For the past five years, HHEC has been conducting research, evaluating programs, and convening the teachers, teaching artists, scholars, researchers, activists, and music industry professionals to research and build a hip hop education movement. Research shows that hip hop programming is making a difference to student engagement and academic outcomes and HHEC firmly believes that integrating hip hop into the public school education system could help solve the U.S. education crisis.
American schools programs are notoriously resistant to change, and many still won’t teach evolution and ways of thinking other to the prevailing culture. There is so much more to hip hop than people can see at the surface – an appreciation of hip hop definitely helped me through the trials of my youth, and I hope HHEC continue to spotlight those making a difference.