Reply To: 6th Grade Hip Hop Unit

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Hello! I have completed an entire curriculum based on the history of hip-hop and using that to teach the nation standards of music. I really only used “old school” hip-hop (1970’s-1980’s) because the message was either having fun, boasting, or socially conscious. I used the following pieces:

Apache-Sugarhill Gang
Ladies First-Queen Latifia and Monie Love
(Ladies First is excellent to use as an example of socially conscious hip-hop and comparing/contrasting the images from this video and lyrical content to what the public commonly think when they think of modern rap/hip-hop. This piece offers what hip-hop started out being…thought provoking, socially conscious…it didn’t necessarily start out with scantily dressed ladies. I love this piece because it shows to strong women MC’s. In today’s music we mostly see women as “decoration” in a video or musically they only contribute melodically)

Rapper’s Delight-Sugar Hill Gang
Ice, Ice Baby-Vanilla Ice (one little word issue in there….”hell of a concept”)

These are some newer songs/artists that I have used:
Stereo Hearts-Gym Class Hero’s featuring Adam Lavine
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo (He’s a hip-hop artist that is appropriate for kids and has some good messages in his song)

Some interesting angles to take would also be the issue of using “sampled” music! For instance:
“Ice, Ice, Baby” (Vanilla Ice) is sampled from “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie. When I play Under Pressure for the kids, they automatically think it is “Ice, Ice Baby” and then we can discuss sampling as well as copyright!

“U Can’t Touch This” (MC Hammer) is based on a sample from Rick James’ “Super Freak” (Not that you want to play all of “Super Freak” for your classes, but I always play the first part)

“Rapper’s Delight” (Sugar Hill Gang) is based on Chic’s “Good TImes” (this is actually pre digital sampling, and they used a live band playing, but I think, technically, it’s “sampled”)

“Apache” (Sugar Hill Gang) is based on the Incredible Bongo Band’s song “Apache” and was also used in Sir Mix A Lot’s “Jump On It”

Let me know if you would like some more ideas! I taught an entire 9 week unit with my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade general music students!

Alexis Yatuzis-Derryberry
Siegel Middle School
Murfreesboro, TN