20.11.2012, Words by dummymag

GZA and a Columbia professor are bringing hip hop to the classroom

The Wu-Tang Clan rapper is part of a New York project aiming to revolutionise approaches to science teaching in inner city schools.

As if prepping a graphic novel and meeting with Harvard professors to research for a new album based on the cosmos wasn’t enough, Wu-Tang Clan legend GZA will soon be applying his years of rap expertise in the classroom.

Working with Professor Chris Emdin of Columbia University and with support from hip-hop online source Rap Genius, GZA will help pioneer an entirely new approach to the teaching of science in ten New York public schools. As the New York Times report, the initially small project is settings its aims high, with Emdin hoping “to change the way city teachers relate to minority students, drawing not just on hip-hop’s rhymes, but also on its social practices and values”. The teaching of science, along with subjects like maths, are often the toughest to inspire interest from students in inner city areas, leading to statistics highlighting that only 4% of African Americans are proficient in science nationwide.

The project is clearly interested in capturing a pedagogical moment in hip-hop – where a rapper relays information and educates the listener through their rhymes – and applying it to the classroom. The kids taking part will be invited to prep their own science-inspired rhymes and deliver them in rap battles with their classmates. Overseer GZA will then step in and pick out the finest rhymes, which will then take pride of place up on Rap Genius (alongside Drake, Nicki Minaj et al).

There seems to have been a sudden spark in hip-hop science news lately, following the news that researchers have been scanning rappers brains to learn more on their creative process. GZA’s upcoming album is slated to be called ‘Dark Matter’, and certainly sounds like it’s set some, erm, stellar, subjects in its sights.

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