Five music videos for my students’ five new original rap songs (OffBeat. Aug 2012)

The following is my annual piece about teaching summer camp rap class. For a little background about the class, CLICK HERE to read Alex Rawls’ article about the class (and its adult counterpart, The Rap Game) at Alex’s website, My Spilt Milk.

“For seven summers I have taught camp in hot, hot New Orleans. Mostly indoors, mine is a writing class disguised as a music class; students aged five to 12 improve their literacy via songwriting — mostly of the rap variety. We also wrote album reviews which were published in OffBeat and other local magazines that paid the kids for their work. Writing tends to be local students’ least favorite activity, but I’ve found music can often coax it out of them.

Usually just one month long, camp lasted, for better or worse, two months this summer. The teaching artists of Community Works gathered each day in a rec center in an area of the West Bank called Cut Off — not to be confused with the Lafourche Parish town of the same name. Across the street from our Cut Off Center, the doors all stood open on a spooky, abandoned strip mall and its parking lot that hosted daily all-day beer parties for the elderly. Not all of our kids — nine groups of roughly 20 students apiece — came from the surrounding neighborhood. Still, this was a vital place to host a summer camp.”

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the piece and to watch FIVE new student music videos for the kids’ original songs. Or if you’re not yet sold, check it:

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