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Hip Hop Appreciation Club focuses on education, not just music

Photo by AK Alilonu ’16 – The hip-hop club meets every other Tuesday to discuss hip-hop lyrics in Mrs. Maynard’s room.
Photo by AK Alilonu ’16 – Hip Hop Club members look at lyrics during a recent meeting. The hip-hop club meets every other Tuesday to discuss hip-hop lyrics in Mrs. Susan Maynard’s room.

By Anthony Cardellini ’17

In Ms. Susan Maynard’s room on the second floor of Brophy Hall, a club meets that is more related to education and learning than anyone might think.

The Hip Hop Appreciation Club, started this year by Luis Torres ’16, meets every other Tuesday to talk about rap songs making headlines in today’s pop culture.

“It’s an urban education,” said Nico Nicholson ’17, one of the club members. “It lets people know that hip hop is more than [most people] think it is.”

The club goes over songs that they consider to be particularly meaningful. So far they have covered Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” and Flatbush Zombies’ song “Blacktivist.”

They plan to cover Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” next meeting.

“People think [hip hop] is trash — people talking about how much money they have,” Nicholson said.

He said that what people don’t know is the story and meaning behind the lyrics.

“There’s a lesson in most songs. It’s a story … what people go through, and what they deal with, and how they think about things,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson and fellow member Eduardo Blanco ’17 said they want to stress how the club doesn’t just listen to hip hop for the sake of hearing music they enjoy.

“It’s not just listening to hip hop and doing nothing about it … this is really meant to be educational,” Nicholson said.

Blanco and Nicholson said they want to expand the club’s horizons to events like the Fine Arts Extravaganza, where they hope club members could read some of their own lyrics.

Club moderator Ms. Maynard said she agrees with Nicholson’s approach to treating hip hop like a form of modern literature.

“Anything that has language in it is worth examining,” Ms. Maynard said. “In many ways music is today’s poetry.”

She explained that a typical meeting involves listening to the song on YouTube and then eliciting comments from club members on what the meaning of the song may be.

“[The leaders] generate a good conversation about not just how the music impacts people, but what impacted the writers. It’s amazing, because I get to be a student.”

Ms. Maynard said she is impressed with leader Torres‘ ability to come up with good material for the club to discuss. She also said that one of her favorite parts of the club is that “it goes deep instead of broad.”

“It’s part of our greater American and world culture. Hip hop has had such an effect on modern society,” she said.

As for the club’s members, they said they truly believe that the lessons they learn in the club are pertinent.

“You can use this in your everyday life to understand people, and why they say or do things,” Nicholson said.

Editor’s Note: Luis Torres ‘16 is a Roundup staff member but did not take part in the production of this article.

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