Los Angeles, California, February 2011 – Since 2006, The Global Awareness through Hip Hop Culture program has been at the forefront of legitimizing the use of Hip Hop culture in mainstream education. Based at a charter school in South Los Angeles, it has been one of the only educational Hip Hop program in the nation offered as a regular class to middle and high school students. Sadly, due to ever-increasing budget cuts, the program will no longer have a home come June 2011.
Sebastien Elkouby, the program’s founder, created this class to address the educational crisis that affects about 50 percent of inner-city students across the U.S. He says, "For a variety of reasons, many students feel completely disconnected from the traditional educational process. This class uses the positive elements of Hip Hop culture that aren’t usually promoted in mainstream media as a medium to develop critical thinking skills while teaching them language arts, social studies, and life skills.”
For the past two years, Elkouby watched budget cuts terminate programs nationwide and suspected that his program would eventually suffer a similar fate. “I can’t expect my program to be safe when thousands of teachers across the country are receiving pink slips. When it comes down to choosing between a Hip Hop class and a science class, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who’s getting the ax first, no matter how enriching my program has proven to be.” During its run, the program experienced great success. Elkouby says, “We’ve achieved a lot. We’ve had Hip Hop legends like MC Lyte and KRS-ONE as guests. We’ve sent kids to DJ retreats. We’ve been awarded state-of-the-art studio equipment. We’ve received international media coverage and been featured in documentaries…and this doesn’t even cover a third of what we’ve achieved. But what I’m most proud of is the impact that the program has had on the students. For hundreds of them, this class has been life-changing.”
Former student A. Dominguez says, "Taking this class has made me realize how much I have changed as an individual and has given me the hope to pursue my wildest dreams. Everyone should be able to participate in such a life changing experience!"
In 2007, Elkouby began working with the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles, advising educators from around the world on how to use Hip Hop culture as an educational medium. In 2008, the National Society of High School Scholars selected Elkouby as “Educator of Distinction”. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to prevent the program from being terminated.
Elkouby is hopeful that the program will find a new home. “It doesn’t even have to be offered at a school,” he says. “I’m open to bringing the program wherever the need is. I know that there’s money available to fund creative programs. We just have to find it. Who knows? It may even come from someone in the Hip Hop community.”
The Global Awareness through Hip Hop Culture Program is currently in session until June 2011.
About the Global Awareness through Hip Hop Culture Program
The Global Awareness through Hip Hop Culture Program is an innovative music, language arts, and social studies program designed to assist low-performing students in developing their language skills, life skills, and global awareness through culturally responsive pedagogy. For more info, contact Sebastien Elkouby at email@example.com or 310-654-1681. Visit www.GlobalAwarenessThroughHipHopCulture.com .
London-based MC and producer Baron Samedi (pronounced Bah-ron Sah-meh-dee) first picked up a pen and a sampler over ten years ago and since then has been grinding away crafting his art and slowly building a rep through the release of several well-received street albums and mix-tapes, both as a solo artist and as one half of Undercurrent with fellow MC Lixx, beginning with the self-produced 2002 Undercurrent concept album Sons Of Celluloid, and quickly followed in 2003 by debut solo album Spit Happens: The Musical, which is still rated as one of the most original and best underground UK hip hop releases ever by many fans.
In 2004 Baron began an association with Leicester-based label Main Rock Records, which led to the release of the Theme Music 12", the critically-acclaimed Undercurrent EP Pirate Radio, and his sophomore solo album Ripping Yarns within a 2 year period, resulting in coverage in Hip Hop Connection, Undercover, DJ Mag, and Blues And Soul, as well as airplay on Steve Lamacq's Radio 1 show. Two more street mixtapes followed, 2006's Animal Rites and the 2008 Undercurrent mixtape Crisis Talks, whilst Baron remained holed up in the lab perfecting his style. Most recently, he has fully produced fellow London MC Grit Grammar's debut album, Life Music, and the first single off it, Hard Times, featuring Genesis Elijah, was Radio 1xtra's Introducing track of the week, as well as featuring on Radio 6's Introducing show, whilst the follow-up single, Life Is, featuring Kyza and Dani Appadoo, has received daytime support on 1xtra from both Viz and Max.
Now, 2011 sees the long-awaited release of Baron Samedi's new solo album, Wanderland. Entirely self-produced, and not reliant on a glut of guest appearances for impact, Wanderland is a modern tour-de-force of thoughtful, original hip hop standing alone in a sea of formulaic music. From the opening prog-rock stylings of Prelude, through the future-funk stutter of Wanderland and Crooked House, past the soulful melodies of Better Days and Airport Lounges, all the way to the laconic ode to London which is The Valley, Wanderland is an album which sounds unlike any of its peers, either musically or lyrically, and shines through because of it. Baron Samedi - the future begins here.