Musical Explorers for Families & Kids
Hip Hop with Soul Science Lab
Step by Step
Sing “Hip Hop Hooray”
- Listen to “Hip Hop Hooray,” Track 28. Using “Hip Hop Hooray” hook, Track 29, sing along to the hook. A hook is a repeated phrase that returns like a chorus.
- Read the verses of “Hip Hop Hooray.” Discuss the meaning of the lyrics.
- Listen to “Higher,” Track 32.
- Sing along to the hook of “Higher,” using Track 33.
- Like many hip hop songs, the lyrics of “Higher” have a message—something that the musicians want you to learn.
- What do you think the message of the song is?
- Which lyrics communicate that message?
What is Hip Hop?
Hip hop is the latest iteration of black music in America. Its roots lie in the ancient storytelling traditions of the West African griots, or jelis, 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.
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