Hip hop is a tool to engage youth

small-013Author, lecturer and a voice of her generation, Felicia Pride spoke to OCL staff Wednesday July 22 in Mancini Hall at the Toms River branch.

 “My goal is to show you a fuller face of hip-hop,” she said as she began her program.  “There are a lot of powerful and rich elements in hip-hop.”

 Her talk and book (“The Message”) told of life lessons that can be drawn from the music, the art and the literature of hip hop culture.

 In discussing the background of hip hop, Felicia noted that it was started by teens from the South Bronx.

 “They started with nothing but they wanted to change their environment,” she said.  And she added that she finds motivation in their example of people having nothing and yet successfully dealing with their life circumstances.

 Hip hop has changed over the years and become commercialized as well as more sophisticated in its presentation.  It has migrated into other art forms, she said, such as theater, film, dance, art and literature.

 Hip hop also lends itself as a tool of engagement for libraries looking to include teens in its programs.  She pointed out that hip hop was started by young people for young people, it is global and crosses ethnic cultures, and it is one of the most dominant aspects of youth culture.

 small-012“Hip hop is a platform to examine and tackle a plethora of real world issues that are relevant to the lives of the young people,” she said.

 Using videos and music from “Why” by Jadakis, Felicia led the OCL staff through a mini-seminar she uses to engage teens to find their own answers to some of life’s problems.  She encouraged the group to ask their own “whys” to understand a problem and to enable them to form opinions.  She then encouraged the participants to act upon those opinions.

 “Hip hop is a tool of engagement,” she said.  “Find out what their interests are and address them.”

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