Over the last few months, I have been able to get some local media coverage around H.E.L.P. in the classroom: The first was this article, written by Marcus Moore for the Montgomery County (MD) Gazette. The article follows a teacher by the name of Helen Dana, who is using H.E.L.P. in her classes at Quince Orchard High School. Helen is an inspiration for other teachers who are looking for new and innovative ways to make the content connect with their students everyday lives.
The next big look we got was on local News Channel 8 and NBC affiliate News Channel 4. Here are the videos:
(Notice in this clip, the newscasters began the interview in a very cynical manner — you know, in that mocking tone: “Using Hip Hop to teach…reading?!?”. I turned them around to seeing things my way by the end of it though…
Here is the News 4 article, which followed me around as I facilitated a HELP workshop with a social studies class at Ballou HS in SE Washington, DC. Here is the video and article from the website:
More press to come, we are just getting started!
For Immediate Release: Contact: Regan Carver
December 3, 2009 607/280.4508
SOUTH AFRICAN HIP-HOP ICON MAKES FIRST VISIT TO U.S. TO RAISE
AWARENESS ABOUT HIV/AIDS AND SUPPORT FOR ARTS EDUCATION INITIATIVES
On January 14th, 2010, Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP) or Jabba, one of South Africa’s leading Hip Hop artists for the last decade, will travel to Washington, D.C. for a two-week “Artist-In-Bloom” residency at BloomBars, a Washington-based non-profit organization that works to inspire and unite communities through the arts while nurturing artists committed to serving the community.
The goal of the residency will be to build a bridge between Hip-Hop communities in South Africa and the United States and promote cross-cultural awareness about critical issues affecting those communities, namely education through the arts and HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness. In addition to performances and workshops at BloomBars and other venues in Washington, D.C. and New York, Jabba will spend much of his time speaking at high schools, juvenile detention facilities, and lecturing at colleges and universities.
Throughout the residency, Jabba will be traveling and collaborating with Gabriel “Asheru” Benn, a widely acclaimed Hip-Hop artist, educator, youth activist, and recipient of the prestigious Peabody Award. As an Artist-in-Bloom Resident Fellow, Asheru will serve as Jabba’s guide and ambassador to the larger Hip-Hop and education communities.
January 14th will also mark the release a of supplemental reading workbook featuring the lyrics of Jabba and Hip-Hop icon Nas, who appears on Jabba’s latest album, “Dumela”, released in October this year. The workbook is one of a series developed by Asheru that use Hip-Hop lyrics to help students of all ages improve reading and critical analysis and teachers improve literacy instruction. Since 2005, Asheru’s Hip-Hop Education Literacy Program (HELP) has partnered with dozens of recording artists, including Common, Jay-Z, Kanye West, KRS-1, Nas, and Rakim. In 2008, HELP received a letter of endorsement from then Senator Barack Obama. Today, HELP can be found in classrooms across the country. Asheru and Jabba will use the workbooks in their meetings with students.
“We invited Hip Hop Pantsula because of his tremendous accomplishments as a recording artist and his selfless commitment to serving his community,” said John R. Chambers, founder of BloomBars. “We are honored and elated that he accepted the invitation.” The Artist-in-Bloom Residency Program is designed to identify and cultivate artists who will represent and advance the belief that art and artists have the power to transform people, communities, and the world. It also seeks to help artists learn how to be leaders in their communities.
“We’re on a mission to break down borders, break down barriers, and break down stereotypes,” said Jabba. “When I learned about BloomBars, and the work Asheru was doing with HELP, I knew we had to make this connection across the pond. We share so many of the same challenges, it’s about time we share solutions.”
“We grew up hearing about Steven Biko and Nelson Mandela,” said Asheru. “I’m excited to learn how that experience has shaped the evolution of Hip-Hop in South Africa. And I’m sure Jabba is excited to learn more about the roots of his chosen craft and meet some of its founders.” A film crew will be following the duo to document the journey. To watch a video introducing the journey, visit, www.youtube.com/user/BloomBars.
Recently nominated for an African Grammy and winner of the Best Video Award at the MTV Africa Awards, Jabba’s celebrity is evidenced by his chart toping songs, regular network and television appearances, and acclaim by music critics across the globe. has shared the stage with the likes of Will Downing, Angelique Kidjo, Wyclef Jean, Jamie Cullum, Saul Williams, and Snoop Dogg. He’s received numerous awards and recognition for his efforts to combat AIDS, promote education and literacy, and other community conscious activities, including an invitation by Oprah to lecture to students at her Leadership Academy for Girls. Jabba has appeared on the third one-off TV special of quiz show “Test The Nation,” entitled National Parenting Test, as the Team Captain representing fathers. In 2007 he won the third season of the reality dance show “Strictly Come Dancing” along with his professional dance partner Hayley Bennett. In 2008 he starred as himself in 11 episodes of the e.tv musical soapie “Rhythm City.” He made his debut on the show on April 4th, 2008. He was one of the featured celebrities on the first season of the South African version of the genealogy documentary series “Who Do You Think You Are?” based on the British series of the same name), which premiered on SABC2 in May 2009.
Asheru is widely known for performing the opening and closing themes for the popular TV series “The Boondocks,” as well as his pioneering and innovative efforts to forward the Hip-Hop education movement. Asheru also collaborated with Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder to write and perform several songs for the hit TV series. In 2006, Asheru earned a prestigious Peabody Award for Journalism—the first rapper (emcee) to win the award—for his writing of the controversial “Return of the King” episode. Asheru has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Canada, the US and Japan, performing alongside artists and groups like Common, Mos Def, Jill Scott, Bilal, Ludacris, Edo G, J-Live, Wordsworth, and The Roots, while collaborating and being featured on projects with Hip Hop greats such as Pete Rock, Talib Kweli and Jazzy Jeff. Asheru is also the founder of Guerilla Arts, Inc., a community based organization specializing in innovative education, cultural arts programming, and professional development.
Please see below for video interviews and more…