Hip-Hop meets SAT, others Fail Test

By Daisy Hernandez Mar 15, 2007

As a rap connoisseur who’s firmly fed up with all this bling-bling and slap-your-girl rap on the radio, I was quite refreshed to learn about Flocabulary–an educational tool that uses hip-hop music to teach history and language. The idea is to use the knack for remembering rap lyrics to memorize all those vocab words they throw on the SAT. It’s actually a white guy’s idea for getting hip-hop into the classroom. But the songs are good (can you imagine?) and include snippets of MLK’s speeches and historical references and good rappers of color. The site has lots of audio clips and you can find out what words don’t rhyme with anything else (orange and purple). Granted, I’m not following most of the song lyrics. And I don’t need to learn vocab words like “ratiocinate” but let’s face it: it’s better than the songs about violent sex and killings. And it’s going to take this same type of radical thinking to dispose of this culture of misogyny and degradation in our rap. * * * A few years ago I became so frustrated with mainstream rap music that I marched into the Amoeba Music store in San Francisco and demanded to hear some hip-hop with a conscious. Actually, I would have settled for anything that wasn’t about killing and getting laid. The guys at the store shook their heads but then remembered one album: Immortal Technique’s Revolutionary, Vol. 2. I listened to this for hours on end for months. It had great lines including these from the song “Harlem Streets”: Check to check, constant struggle to make the payments/ Working your whole life wondering where the day went/ The subway stays packed like a multi-cultural slave ship/ It’s rush hour, 2:30 to 8, non stoppin’/ And people coming home after corporate share croppin Unfortunately, as of late, Mr. “revolutionary” has begun making some justifications for the violence and disrespect of women found in hip-hop. -Sigh- I’m counting him as another good man lost to the idea that we have to kill each other in the pursuit of some higher goal. Life’s been a little lonely without his old music…