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Last month, came news that the Wu Tang Clan’s resident Genius, the GZA, is going to soon begin working with Columbia teacher Dr. Christopher Emdin and the website RapGenius to bring a better, hip-hop-based chemistry class to New York public schools. As cool as it is that GZA’s taking this seriously enough to meet with physicists at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this could be only the beginning. With hopes this new age of hip-hop in the classroom catches on, we’ve made a list of MCs we think could help raise New York’s test scores with their lyrics implemented in the curriculum.
Teacher: Foxy Brown
While Nas’ would-be supergroup The Firm never amount to more than one of rap’s first major disappointments, their introductory track “Affirmative Action” at lease gave us Foxy Brown’s one-of-a-kind take on mathematics which, 17 years later, RapGenius diagrammed to prove it made perfect sense. While she may not be the first MC to come to mind in terms of a mastery of mathematics, she’s proven to have a much firmer grasp of basics than even some of the most touted intelligent rap artists
Ever since Grandmaster Caz had his rhymebook plagiarized over 30 years ago in the making of “Rappers Delight,” rap artists have joyfully reminded us how much fun it is to spell words. Hit Squad member K-Solo’s probably the MC most synonymous with the style, taking the craft so serious that not only is it showcased in his trademark song “Spellbound,” but it even lead to a beef with DMX. Still, K-Solo is known as rap’s true spell-master (except for the word “Bird,” that one always gave him trouble) and we believe not only could his expertise help today’s students, but his fellow rappers as well.
Teacher: MC Paul Barman
Hyper-creative Prince Paul protege MC Paul Barman has always riddled his rhymes with highbrow references, even if discussing the lowest brow of subjects. While he’s penned fun educational tracks for children under his Science Gang guise, one of his most memorable lessons has to be his detailed gastronomy lesson “Burping and Farting.” Incorporating both the “how’s” and “why’s” of both, as well as proper etiquette, Barman demystifies passing gas in a way where it will never sound the same to listeners again.
Teacher: Ghostface Killah (start at 18:47)
Few artists in any genre can match the eloquent specifics of Ghostface. With two decades of tracks that paint a picture as vivid as any map, he’s the reason an entire generation of hip-hoppers have at least some idea of how to navigate around Staten Island. We’re willing to wager most students could have the globe memorized within a single school year if Ghostface’s directions on “Heart Street Directions” are anything to go by. One can only imagine a similar breakdown of the former Ottoman Empire.
Teacher: RA the Rugged Man
Attending an R.A. the Rugged Man show is a workout in itself. His energy onstage alternates between rapidfire flows and pure physical exertion )often culminating in doing “the worm”). It’s enough to make one break into a sweat just watching him, not to mention the moshing and occasional audience member getting smacked/dropkicked in the head. Not only could R.A. successfully get today’s students into shape, but tracks like his ridiculously in-depth History of Boxing freestyle and his noted on-air dispute with champion boxer Floyd Mayweather shows he can deliver on the education side of physical education as well.