When Cassie Crim, a high school math teacher in Joliet, Illinois, introduced herself to her advanced algebra students in 2017, she did it through a rap video.
Using a rendition of Cardi B’s “Bodack Yellow,” renamed “Codack Yellow,” Crim referenced math terms and laid down classroom expecations:
“These exponents, these is ratios, these is power rules Algebra and a lil’ trig, I don’t wanna choose And I’m quick to take a couple (points) off so don’t get comfortable”
With rap music continuing to rule as America’s most popular music genre for a second straight year in 2019, according to Nielsen Music’s annual report, it makes sense for educators to use rap music to reach students who might otherwise not find a subject relevant. And Crim is by no means the only teacher who is doing just that.
In Pasadena, California, Manuel Rustin, a social studies teacher at John Muir High School, uses rap songs to get students to make meaning of current events and history through a course entitled “Urban Culture and Society.”
At Detroit’s Frederick Douglass Academy, Quan Neloms has students search the lyrics of their favorite rap songs for “college-level vocabulary and references to key events and concepts from American history.”
Collectively, the three teachers represent part of a new generation of educators who embrace a form of teaching known as Hip Hop Pedagogy. It’s a form of teaching that takes the most popular genre of music in the U.S. and uses it to foster success in the classroom.
But is it paying off?