Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hip Hop Projects

Hip Hop Project Notes:

It is almost June!  It feels like yesterday we arrived in class.  I would like to start your final project today.  ALL of these assignments require a lot of work.

You have five choices:

1. Textbook
Create our textbook for the next school year.  This textbook will be published and available for download all over the world.  Create a team to write, edit, and publish this book.
  • We will use Lulu as our publishing platform.
  • Books have rules.  You must use citations, have a title page, and follow Lulu’s rules for formatting.  You must design a cover, set a price, etc...
  • Remember what the textbook is for!  It needs to be an aide for the students.

2. Album
Using soundcloud create a hip hop album of your rhymes.  This will be YOUR album, but you can recruit people to help you on it (they won’t receive a grade).
  • I’ve talked about finding your voice.  What do you have to say?
  • Keep it PG rated.  Avoid the 7 bad swear words.  
  • Improve your soundcloud profile.  Can you get subscribers to your feed?
  • This album must include at least 5 minutes of music/rhyme (thats a lot...).

3. Paper
Perhaps you want to dive deep into a question about hip hop.  Please write a traditional research paper that includes all standard formatting.  Your paper must include citations and be at least six pages long.  This will require serious research.  Your paper must answer one of the following questions:
  • How did the Los Angeles riots of 1992 change the course of hip hop?
  • Why are most hip hop stars male?
  • Does hip hop have a love/hate relationship with gangsters?

4. Video
Create a “how to” channel on youTube.  Post professional looking videos on any hip hop topic.  You should post at least three videos of at least 2 minutes in length.  These videos could be about creating beats, rhyming, dance, or other hip hop related topics.  You can work in a team of 2 or 3 for this, but it must be clear to me who is doing what task.
  • Think hard about creating a professional look.  What will be the setting/studio for your video?  
  • How can your audience feel welcome and encouraged to participate?

5. Create a Hip Hop Magazine
Do you feel you are a hip hop expert?  Create a Hip Hop brand (like Vibe) where you write and curate information about the state of hip hop.  Can you create a brand that gains followers and is up-to-the-minute about hip hop?  Your brand must include the following:
  • Podcasts using soundcloud.
  • A Flipboard
It could include:
  • Social media (twitter, tumblr, etc...)
  • Website/Blog

6. Something Else
Is there a project that you feel passionate about that isn’t listed here?  Can you do it? Yes!  It must be awesome in order to be approved.  Go for it!

This is the basic school Rubric I will use to evaluate your project.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I was a groomsman in a wedding of an old friend.  It was interesting and fun weekend away at Block Island.  Kurt plays in a lot of weddings and it was interesting to hear the group he hired.  Real pros.  Must be interesting playing a wedding where you know 1/2 the people could sit in for you.

It was a nice reunion of old band instructors.  Here is Jack and Keith and I at the lighthouse.  Lots of time spent on the field with these guys.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Misogyny and Hip Hop

Today in Hip Hop we will get deeper into the really explicit lyrics.  Not something we normally do.  Much of this assignment is taken from the PBS Guide from Beyond the Beats.

I keep all of our class notes in an Evernote folder that the class shares.  Here is the assignment note:

This is the final day for this unit.  Our test will be on Friday.  Your test will include one summary essay (see below) and answers from the previous three classes.

Once again please put all of your answers in your evernote answer note.  Be sure to draw a line between Day 3 and Day 4 work.

Take the time to read Wikipedia's entry on misogyny in hip hop culture.

1. Watch the video for Pimp Juice by Nelly.  Reference the lyrics using this link.  I choose not to show you the video from Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't S..t".  You can reference the lyrics from The Chronic here.  These lyrics are clearly offensive and we include them to make the comparative analysis.  Nelly's lyrics are perhaps less explicit, but may be as offensive.

2. Watch the video for Queen Latifah U.N.I.T.Y.  Reference the lyrics using this link
  • Is this song is a response to Dr. Dre?
  • How does Queen Latifah combat the misogyny in hip hop lyrics?  
3. Need to clear your head after all these lyrics?  Watch the Muppets sing Danny Boy.

4. Analyze the Dr. Dre track using the following guide questions (choose two questions to answer):
• In the first verse, Dr. Dre refers to his former partner, Eazy E, as a woman. What is his point?
• In the second verse, Snoop Dogg describes an episode that ends in him exacting violence against a woman. What is his justification for that act of violence?
• Jewell, a female rapper, raps the last verse. How does she position herself toward other women and
toward men?
• How does this song relate to Michael Eric Dyson’s analysis in the film that men bond with each other by using sex and their domination of women “at the expense of their heterosexual alliances with women”?

5. Analyze the Queen Latifah song using the following guide questions (choose two questions to answer):
• What is the hook? Is it catchy? What is the message of the hook?
• In the first verse, whom is Queen Latifah addressing? What is her message to them?
• In the last verse, Queen Latifah speaks directly to women. What is her message to them?
• This song was very popular when it came out. Would a song like this be equally appealing and commercially viable now? Why or why not?

6. Read about Dr. Dre in the news.   Dr. Dre has clearly been very successful.  

Want a head start on your main essay question for the test on Friday?

Assignment: Compare and Contrast Essay
Write an essay comparing the lyrics and messages of the Dr. Dre and Queen Latifah songs or two songs of your choice that represent perspectives on women similar to the Dr. Dre and Queen Latifah songs. You should include specific lines as examples and present an opinion on how the songs impact listeners and consumers.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Smartmusic for iPad

Some thoughts about the release of Smartmusic for iPad.

1. I still can't figure out the cost structure.
2. I'm worried this will be a space hog on the iPad as students download files.
3. If we implement I anticipate either providing some students with subscription and/or loaning the iPads out for home use.
4. I see this as a digital library where I can "try out" a band piece with my group.  We are 1-1 iPads in my band (1-2 in choir).  If it works I'm not sure why I would buy paper copies of music.
5. This encourages me to go all digital next year.  Each student in band would be assigned an iPad and choir students would be iPad buddies.  I went half way this year with digital folders.
6. It would be nice if you could "sync" smartmusic ala garageband jam session so multiple kids could be assessed during rehearsal.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Hip Hop iPad Assignments

This is a "kind of" fun day where I want you to explore some new things, either on youtube or apps on the iPad.  Some of this stuff is music knowledge we need to gain and start practicing.

Some of your iPads might be missing an app.  Let me know if that is the case.

1. Watch this new animation of a Beastie Boys interview Its kind of cool.

2. Can you clean your iPad out?  Look for junk in the photos, or garageband or other apps.  Delete old stuff you made.  Be careful not to delete other students work.  Have you logged out of everything you ahve been using?  If dirty use the special cloth to polish screen.  Use the windex on the back.

3. Play the Dust Buster piano app.  Try to learn one song that you can then play on the real piano.  You want to play the touch piano and then the Germ Attack game.  If you want to switch use the "real piano" option.  Start with the simplest tunes.

4. Play with some of the groove apps like Beatwave, Groovemaker, Melodica Free, or Electrobeats.  Show teacher your best groove.

5. Play with DJay Lite.  We used this a bit at the beginning of the course.  Most of the iPad music is in "the cloud".  You may need to listen to the music in the iPod Music part and download songs you want to the iPad.  I haven't quite figured this out.  Remember, samplers take music from non-hip hop type music.  You can sample from Bach, James Brown, John Coltrane, etc...

6. Work on your ear training with APS Trainer.  Start to figure out when notes are flat or sharp.  Ask me if you need help.

7. Create a youtube playlist called "Hip Hop How to Videos".  Add this video to your list  Find two other dance how to videos that you think are good and would like to work on.

8. Try the DragonBox game.  Its kind of about algebra.

9. Play with some of the Rap apps.  Rap to the Beats or Rap Wars.  Are there better apps out there?  Do some research and write me an evernote note why I should add it.