May 10, 2006
Last weekend, about 400 teachers gathered for a conference in Los Angeles to learn how to incorporate rap music into their daily lessons. Teacher Erica Carducci thinks the approach is a good idea; she uses Eminem lyrics to help students understand Robert Frost's poetry. That seems odd, because rap has long shown a distaste for the English language-especially the letter "S," which is judiciously eschewed in the hip hop vernacular (e.g., "I ain't down wit' tax cutz on dividendz, aight!"). But critics who focus on spelling miscues overlook hip hop's longstanding commitment to improving the larger problems in K-12 education. What about 50 Cent, aka Fiddy, (not to be confused with Checker Finn, aka Finny) who preaches the virtue of hard work: "I'm feelin' focused man, my money on my mind, I got a mil out the deal and I'm still on the grind [emphasis added]."? Or the rap duo Kriss Kross, who despite never learning to properly dress themselves, have made their career railing against irresponsible behavior and youthful indiscretion. Their 1992 hit "I Missed the Bus" is packed with wisdom: "I missed the bus [oh] and that is somethin' I will never, ever, ever do again.... the day was a no win; I learned to never miss my bus again." In a time of poor attendance and rising dropout rates, certainly those are important words worthy of examination in school. Plus-who in L.A. cares about snowy forestz, anyway?
"Add a bit of rap, teachers told," Associated Press, May 8, 2006