Peak Inside the TFS Classroom: Using Hip Hop to Learn About Global Culture, Geography, Business, Religion and Beyond

The past two days at Prescott Elementary and West Oakland Middle Schools (WOMS, Beats4Lunch program), respectively, the classes watched a video from Yoram Savion and Kash Gaines’ Yak Films youtube channel for which two of our instructors, Phillipdrummond and Decap made the beat. You can see the kids’ reactions below to this initial clip, as well as to the second clip of Peruvian BMX’er Williams Perez, which was also set to the same beat. Not only were the French B-Boys (breakdancers) in the video approximately the age of our students, the commonality of Hip Hop dance and culture was another factor that allowed them to more closely related to these young people, despite being on completely different continents. Showing them these videos also allowed for an opportunity to expose our students to different cultures, music, ideas, business/marketing practices, learning about different countries and languages, and the universality of Hip Hop, as well as its global impact.

Dr. Gann discussed the origins of the song sampled, “Hava Nagila,” which was covered by a Canadian pop singer from the 1960’s. This led to discussing Judaism and Jewish cultural practices, something with which most of the students were unfamiliar. At the WOMS site in the “Beats4Lunch” after-school program, questions about Dr. Gann’s own Jewish heritage and ethnic/geographic roots arose, which led some to students in the class to discuss and open up about their own families’ histories of immigration, and further explore geography by making use of maps. Additional topics touched upon during the presentation and discussion of the clip included business and marketing aspects such as licensing and selling beats, France being the second biggest Hip Hop market in the world, even the discussion of what the word “market” means in this context. The power of the internet and social media was discussed not only as a promotional tool, but as a way to spread ideas, and learn about other cultures and places around the world. Students were also show the the clip of Williams Perez riding BMX in Lima, Peru. Javier, the video editor from Peru, had been watching Yak Films’ channel, seen the video and downloaded the beat and used it for his own video. Students then greeted Javier Alejandro Ramirez Noriega and Williams Perez via instagram video, as seen below. TFS has begun discussing the possibility of students submitting their beats’ to Javier to use for dance and BMX videos of young people in Peru, for an international collaboration.

BBOYS BUMBLE BEE, NORD DIAMOND & VADYROCK 12 year olds in Quimper | Silverback Bboy x YAK FILMS:

Williams Perez BMX Video: