COLUMBIA, SC – May 31, 2018 – While the final days of school before summer break are often spent watching in-class movies and cleaning out lockers, the sixth graders at Southeast Middle School in Hopkins, SC are actively engaged and excited about learning. For the past two weeks, South Carolina hip-hop artist FatRat Da Czar has been visiting their classrooms, taking a pause from his regular life to work with a group of almost 200 local middle school students.
As part of Southeast Middle School’s artist-in-residence program in partnership with EngenuitySC, Czar is using the art of hip-hop to help students review and retain information they learned through the year about the history of humankind. Covering everything from the cradle of civilization in Mesopotamia to Ancient Greece and Rome, students have been preparing for an epic sixth-grade rap battle that incorporates historic facts with hip-hop rhymes and beats.
“The opportunity to teach young folks history using hip-hop has been incredible,” said Czar. “It has given me some great insight about the function of artists like myself and organizations like Love, Peace & Hip-Hop in education and development.”
Taking on the roles of writers, rappers, dancers, and visual artists, everyone in the class is participating. Czar helped identify students’ individual talents, both directing the energy of kids with big personalities and encouraging shy kids to find their confidence, so they can all work together as a team.
The two sixth-grade history teachers, Mrs. Jamel Carter and Mr. Oliver Thompson, have fully embraced the rap battle experience, dividing their classes into assigned groups: Hunter-Gatherers vs. Cradles of Civilization; Ancient Rome vs. Ancient Greece; Feudal Europe vs. Feudal Japan; and the Reformation vs. the Renaissance.
"This has been an unforgettable learning experience," said Mrs. Carter. "I have enjoyed watching my students work collaboratively with a professional artist, and they look forward to seeing him come down the halls."
With the challenge of a looming rap showdown in the school’s auditorium on Monday, students are scouring textbooks, collaboratively writing lyrics, and rehearsing their delivery. Highlighting their assigned era’s accomplishments, raps like the one written about Ancient Greece help students connect on a personal level with pivotal civilizations in history:
“We brought the literature. We brought the theatre. We brought philosophy.
Shout out to Homer. Shout out to Plato. Shout out to Socrates.”
Southeast STEAM Coordinator Yolanda Daniels explained, "This program enables students to re-enhance the information they are learning inside the classroom as well as allows them to grow and become confident in themselves as learners."
"It’s always an honor and always so exciting to welcome an artist into a school environment,” said Meghan Hickman, Executive Director of EngenuitySC. “Performers like Czar humanize the stories in our textbooks, unveiling the ‘real people’ who created the world we live in today. He and the teachers at Southeast are getting students excited about both understanding history and creating their future.”
About FatRat Da Czar
As South Carolina’s godfather of hip-hop, FatRat Da Czar’s music career has spanned over two decades. Originating in Hampton Roads, VA and honing his skills in Columbia, SC, Czar solidified his role as an acclaimed solo artist with the release of Da Cold War album trilogy (2007-2012). In addition to opening for national acts to include Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, and Lauryn Hill, Czar has also engineered sessions for national artists ranging from KRS-One to Kevin Gates at the Boom Room, the hip-hop focused enclave of South Carolina's legendary Jam Room Recording Studio. Through his role as founder and executive director of Love, Peace & Hip-Hop, Czar established World Famous Hip-Hop Family Day in 2013. This free annual festival dedicated to celebrating hip-hop culture has delivered artists such as MC Lyte, Kool Moe Dee, Slick Rick, and Kid N Play to crowds of 16,000 on Columbia’s Main Street.
Headquartered in Columbia, SC, EngenuitySC is a nonprofit focused on long-term competitiveness and prosperity in the Midlands. EngenuitySC specializes in managing collaborations between business, government, education, and community leaders. This is their third year partnering with Southeast Middle School to provide exciting and engaging opportunities for learning and personal growth. At several schools in District One, EngenuitySC has infused the curriculum with hands-on STEAM activities, soft skills development, and entrepreneurial training. For more information, visit http://www.engenuitysc.com.