Hip Hop with Soul Science Lab
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Hip hop is the latest iteration of black music in America. Its roots lie in the ancient storytelling traditions of the West African griot, brought to the US during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Enslaved Africans managed to keep some of these oral traditions of song and poetry alive, and to create new forms of music. During slavery and in the century that followed, the lineage of African American music grew to encompass spirituals, jazz, blues, rock, soul, R&B, and in the late 1970s, hip hop. Pioneered by African American, Latinx, and West Indian teenagers in the South Bronx, hip hop continues the West African practice of telling the stories of the people through rhythm and voice. In Asanté’s words, “Hip hop embodies the spirit of revolution and innovation that continues to survive in black and brown people despite challenging social situations and systematic oppression.”
As the duo Soul Science Lab, artist, educator, and creative director Chen Lo and multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer Asanté Amin approach hip hop as the heirs of this deep tradition, calling themselves “Afrofuturist griots.” Their role as educators is inseparably intertwined with their role as artists. Soul Science Lab combines music and multimedia performance to create culturally responsive, interactive educational experiences; the project Soul Science Kids speaks directly to an elementary-age audience.
Meet Soul Science Lab!
Introduce your students to Soul Science Lab with this “Meet Soul Science Lab” video. Visit the video index to watch all the videos for Soul Science Lab and the other Program Five artists.
Resources for Teachers
The following resources provide background information about the musical genre and culture. Some are intended to be shared with students; others are for teachers who may want to explore further on their own.
- Visit soulsciencelab.com to hear more of Soul Science Lab’s music.
- Chen Lo, “Alive”
- Fugees, “Fu-Gee-La”
- OutKast, “B.O.B”
- Mos Def, “Umi Says”
- Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, Jeff Chang
- The Anthology of Rap, Adam Bradley and Andrew Dubois
- The Rose That Grew from Concrete, Tupac Shakur
- The Music of Black Americans: A History, Eileen Southern
- The Hip Hop Family Tree, Ed Piskor (a comic book series)
- Hip Hop Evolution, Darby Wheeler, Sam Dunn, and Scot McFadyen
- Nas: Time is Illmatic, One9
- Style Wars, Tony Silver
- The Art of 16 Bars: Get Ya’ Bars Up, Peter Spirer
- “Rapping, Deconstructed: The Best Rhymers of All Time,” Vox