Popular genre now offered as elective

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Hip-hop teacher, Ms. Buswell, discusses the significance of Eminem’s lyrics to her class.

Giselle Pineda, Staff Writer

Almost a quarter of the music out there is hip hop making it one of the most prevalent genres of music, especially among young people. This could be why Palm Beach Central decided to offer Exploring Hip-Hop Literature this year. 

The class, which is open to all students regardless of race, was originally started by Ms. Starnes-Martell, who left at the beginning of the school year. It is now taught by Rebecca Buswell who is a History teacher at Central. She was asked to take over after the first quarter and decided to accept the offer. She saw it as a learning opportunity not only for students but for her as well.

“I actually didn’t have much experience or knowledge of hip hop,” explained Buswell. “Through teaching it to students and going through the process of setting up the curriculum, I’ve been able to gain more of an appreciation for hip hop and understand what its impact has really been.”

The class delves into the history, literacy, and political influence that hip-hop has in and on society. In the class they discuss poetry, rap, political influences made by the artists, social issues, and deciphering symbolism in lyrics and poetry.  

Interestingly, one of the ways she engages students is by asking them to recommend a song to play at the beginning of every class. She also allows students a creative outlet to express their feelings through writing poems, songs, short stories, drawing, and creating visual representations. Through this, students are able to express themselves in various ways. 

“I am always so excited to see what the students are going to display,” Buswell noted. 

Historically, hip-hop is a genre that was created by the black community.  Hip-hop in America was especially prevalent in providing a voice for marginalized groups during the 1970s. The genre was introduced by musician Clive Campbell, a Jamaican immigrant who was credited for the development of hip-hop. 

“I think that some students would walk into the class and wonder if I am the best person to teach the course,” explained Buswell. “However, I have used this class as a learning experience. I have found that through this course I have been able to learn more about my students and what interests they have. I have been able to connect with them and learn about their lives through the music we listen to and share with each other. I have learned a tremendous amount about different cultures through the teaching of this course, and I believe many students have as well.” 

Since life imitates art, hip-hop ties hand in hand with history this means political and social topics are discussed in the class. Along with various artists such as Kanye and Tupac. One of her students in the class expresses his feelings towards the topics and how they are taught.                                                                                                                     

“We went from hip-hop to hurricane Katrina,” noted senior and hip-hop student. “This history correlates with hip-hop.  The class is good and the message is really good.  [Buswell] is really good at engaging students. I would prefer we went into depth more on artists and genres that made huge impacts in society and culture, however.”  

Although, according to Buswell, the future of the course is unknown, “the social studies department is always looking to add more diverse classes that will allow our students to explore other cultures and races/ethnicities.”