Panel uses Hip-Hop to try to spur academics
By Kelly Hinchcliffe : The Herald-Sun
DURHAM -- Hip-Hop is more than just a type of music -- it's a culture, a lifestyle, a fashion statement, a swagger.
Students at Healthy Start Academy in Durham learned this and other lessons Monday as a panel of "Hip-Hop experts" spoke about their passion and the relationship between Hip-Hop and academic achievement.
The event was held to celebrate Healthy Start's 10-year anniversary as the first charter school in North Carolina.
Christopher Martin, better known as "Play" from the rap and acting duo "Kid 'N Play," and an artist-in-residence at N.C. Central University, served as a panelist along with Cicero Leak and Mike Wilson, producers of the award-winning documentary, "Welcome to Durham USA."
Scholar and cultural critic Mark Anthony Neal, associate professor of Black Popular Culture at Duke University, and Katrina Billingsley of NCCU also served as panelists.
"Hip-Hop reflects where kids are," said Neal. "We have to connect where they are."
If the music reflects where kids are, eighth-grader India Allen wanted to know why so many of the music's lyrics depict sex, money and drugs.
"This is their reality," said Wilson. "It's a reality to the streets that these things take place."
While the panelists didn't condone that lifestyle, they urged students to take Hip-Hop and draw positives from it.
"It inspires you to learn words, to spell words," Martin said.
Wilson encouraged the students to take popular slang and create a dictionary.
"Words you can't find in Webster's, you can find in the new Hip-Hop dictionary," he said. "As times change, words change. It's OK to use slang, just make sure you understand it. Make sure your point is getting across."
For more information about Healthy Start Academy, 807 W. Chapel Hill St.,visit www.healthystartacademy.com
or call (919) 956-5599.