U.S. History & Hip Hop

Whether I like to admit it or not, summer is almost over. With just a little more than a month to go my mind cannot help but plan for the upcoming school year.

If you were ever to meet any of my students in U.S. History, I'd hope, they’d say my class is unconventional. I use not textbooks but modern forms of media and music to help them grasp the various difficult content in the course.

This coming year, I look forward to using some of the following songs/ videos to help them pass that emphasis NY State Regents Exam.

Kodak Black - Tunnel Vision - With over 140 million views the song "Tunnel Vision" struck a chord with many people across the nation. Not only because of its content but the visual component that was released via YouTube Feb. 16, 2017. The song is an ode to the struggle of obtaining success while being Black in America. For millions of Black youth they are placed at a fork in the road. There are options on either side, both of which are glorified and provide monetary gain. Yet, only one road is considered the "true" route. Even with clear indication that the realm of corporations and politics comes with its own level of hooliganism. The video is set, in what the south, with a confederate flag & KKK loving white male chasing Kodak. As he repeats:

"Li'l Kodak they don't like to see you winnin' They wanna see you in the penitentiary I need me a li'l baby who gon' listen Girl I don't wanna be the one you iggin' My mama told me, "Boy make a decision" Right now I gotta keep a tunnel vision..."

His song articulates the struggle for youth born post-civil rights era to decide on whether or not they want to participate in what is around them or have the tunnel vision necessary to acquire what they aspire for beyond their current circumstance.

Big Sean - Sacrifices ' I know my Great Great Auntie was a slave, I can only imagine all the sacrifices that she made, I'm gonna make sure all of her sacrifices ain't in vain" - I've listened to many songs over the past year to get me through my nights of planning but this year Big Sean brought it home. The song "Sacrifices" is another video/song in which I'll use to discuss the plight of the Black experience with my students. In the song Sean says,

"Fuck what you telling me, I sense the jealousy I got telepathy, I got the recipe I got the streets and I don’t got no felonies Forward thinking yeah my mind is ahead of me Momma said it's gonna be whatever you let it be It's some homies I grew up with that's dead to me It's some niggas that I just met in debt to me What's in common is they both pay respect to me..."

We want money. Not just because of the things it brings but because of the ease in which you can breathe with it. There's nothing like economic freedom. When explaining to my students sharecropping, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Brown vs Board, college tuition, GI Bill, red lining, white flight and other Regents baring content questions I think this song would be great in helping them recall the sacrifices that were made for them to be in their current seats.

Jay Z - Story of OJ - "I'm not black I'm OJ ..ummmmmm... Ok..." - Although, the state exam doesn't provide an opportunity for students to engage with the questions multiple choice or essay to articulate their experience I believe it is crucial to deeply discuss the Jay-Z's most recent album and the stereotypical images displayed in the video for "The Story of O.J.

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