Monday, April 22, 2019

The Roots of Rap

There is probably a tapper in your home or class: the boy or girl who is constantly tapping, often unconsciously, with pencil or thumbs or toes.  Rhythm pulses through their bodies like strikes of lightening  - like spoken word poetry – like rap – like the poetry of Carole Boston Weatherford’s new book, The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop.

Hip-hop, explains Weatherford, “is a form of youth expression that originated in New York City in the late 1970s and included four pillars: graffiti, break dancing, rapping/MCing, and DJing/scratching/turntablism.” Rap, “the spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics performed to a beat.”

With illustrations by Frank Morrison that jump and jam on every page, The Roots of Rap celebrates the loud, boisterous original culture of hip-hop, giving young people an opportunity to write and contemplate in ways they might not have thought were acceptable in a classroom.

Look at Weatherford’s list of “Hip Hop Who’s Who.”
·       Which musicians do you know and like?
·       Pick two musicians and compare and contrast their music.
·       Create a hip-hop name for yourself and explain it.

Of course read the book out loud. Very loud.
·       What graffiti message would you like to paint on a wall? (Is there a classroom bulletin board for all the student messages?)
·       How do Morrison’s illustrations amplify and strengthen the text?
·       Why makes rap and hip-hop poetry so powerful – and lasting?

Of course you can plan a classroom hip-hop party, with plenty of music and everyone writing a poem that they are proud to stand up and say or sing.

“From Atlanta to Zanzibar, youth spit freestyle freedom sounds.
Hip-hop is a language that’s spoken the whole world ‘round.”

And please celebrate Carole Boston Weatherford as the 2019 Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award winner on May 11 in Washington, D.C.

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