Positive Rap Initiative

BCNY member Elijah learning how to play the piano and electric drums at the same time by playing along to the song “Dangerously” by Charlie Puth

The Positive Rap Initiative is a recently developed part of BCNY’s robust music program. The initiative started as an innovative method to engage explorers during piano lessons and teach them about music. As their interest grew, Positive Rap turned into a way for members to emulate the rap heroes they look up to while focusing on positive themes and appropriate language. “I use it as a process to get them back to learning about the instrument they’re working on,” said Piano Teacher Kevin Maddox.

At the end of music class, a lot of our younger members are fidgety and want to do something beyond practicing piano, like listening to music. “We started writing positive raps because we couldn’t actually listen to the music they wanted to hear because of the themes or language in the music,” said Maddox. “We have to be really careful about what we expose these kids to, and I’m the filter for the content they see or hear, at least at BCNY.”

In Positive Rap, members write raps themselves while learning about the basics of writing lyrics, rhyming, and the history of rap. An exercise of introspection, our members identify a topic, something they like to do, and think about why they like it. Positive Rap teaches them how to organize their thoughts into a chorus and verse and turn their feelings into a form and flow that fits music.

Performing raps in front of the class is an exciting, confidence building experience. The accomplishment of writing a rap in itself is empowering, but after performing their rap our members get to say that they are rappers too, just like Jay-Z.

Positive Raps

Writing raps helps our members improve their self esteem at school. In their network of peers they’ll develop a special second grader status because maybe they aren’t that good at basketball, but they’re rappers. “They’ll be like, “Chance is the one who writes good raps” when they’re with their friends,” said Maddox.

By Mohammed and Chance:

          

By Mohammed and Justin:

          

“Take Initiative” performed by Justin & the Gerry Clubhouse music class

Click here to watch the “Take Initiative” music video!

Song written by the Gerry Clubhouse music class
Performed by explorer member Justin
Produced by Bruce McKinnon Jr.