Bigger than Hip Hop workshop actively opens the mind of students

Special thanks to our local artists; Marty, SJ and Sauce, who came out to teach and host this event. Another thanks to The Washburn University department of Diversity and Inclusion for making this moment happen. The fact that the people who are educated in hip hop, the making, creating and performing aspects of the art, and are willing to share their knowledge to help the youth to better expand their artistic horizons, to make their dreams happen. Thank you.

This workshop was intended to open the minds of young artists and expand on hip hop as an art form.

Marty Hillard, Co-founder of Lowercase Kansas, a locally operated open-mic event where anyone can express themselves in a judgement free environment, first felt his passion to act on his voice during his late teens where he became a poet, visual artist, musician and community organization planner. Later he became a father and husband, as family is his priority his passion still sits in the arts and his open heart is to help youth voice what they fee needs to be said. Marty had an idea that he wanted to be heard, and he understands how important it is to do so. He was given the options, ‘get hot, or stop rapping’, he decided to challenge that and build a third route, which is why he hosts events, such as lowercase Kansas, for other artists who don’t want to stop rapping, and who haven’t quit get hot yet, to gain that experience to perform.

S.S.J Hazim, founder of Creative Pathways and Means, which is an organization that empowers teens to reach for their dreams and meet them while staying educated and passionate in the art. S.J is a local artist, who came out to co-host the workshop, and spread his advice when creative writing. He explains that when he first started writing and was ready to share his art to a second eye, he went to his closest friends who he could trust and weren’t yes man he expanded that, “as far as confidence goes, you have to believe that you are that person, and you have to confide in someone who is not a yes man, who will give you real advice.”

Kansas City native, Sauce is inspired by the act and the meaning behind hip hop. Sauce has been focused on inspiring youth to practice their passion hands on, and in the moment. He is an open arm to youth as he is an experienced artist and performer, he invites youth to come to him for advice. Sauce is always open to performing, teaching, and speaking on his knowledge of the education of hip hop. Sauce has had his music peak on iTunes, billboard charts and amazon.

The workshop started by the hosts passing out a pen and a notebook to each student that attended. The room was filled with many different students, some required to be there and some anxious to learn what was to be taught. The artists introduced the room to the idea that rap is constructed of feelings, similes, metaphors and passion. Each member discussed what the importance of rap was to them.

 Professor Eric McHenry, Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences, obtained his Bachelor of Arts at Beloit College, and his Master of Arts at Boston University, was co-hosting also the event. Eric McHenry has written a number of published books and has a heart for poetry as a whole. The Professor explained that during his college years, hip hop helped him to understand how life was happening around the world. He was attending college around the time that the political war between the media and Rodney King was going on, and he was going to school around that same time the ‘Straight Outta Compton’ album was at its’ peak, through this album he was able to see what was going on between both the media, and furthermore, what was going on in the world around him through the eyes of hip hop.  He explains that hip hop should not be over looked, as hip hop is an art form. Marty explained that “Hip hop just travels well, and so much of the world that we live in today  the expectation of from an educational point of view is that your knowledge will expand beyond just the community you live in an the place you call home. I feel like hip hop does such a great job to be able to articulate that.” Sauce expanded “Rappers are exposing us to the way that people are talking in other regions of the world, we have Japanese trap artists now, and I recently saw a video about a women whose region was just given the right to drive cars, and she did a whole song about that. Stuff like that really makes it important to transfer language and ideas through this art form.” Hip hop was explained to be a language to give us the real-life news from all over the world.

During the workshop, Marty and Sauce were able to give advice to some of the students who did suffer from writers’ block. Marty explained that “step away from it for a little bit and treat your other priorities with the urgency they deserve. Its all about time and balance. I’m still struggling with that, but I’m trying to get better and better at that every day.”

The process; Marty shared an example of one of his writing processes, “If I don’t set the tone immediately, then I don’t know what to carry it onto.”

Sauce later went on to explain his personal writing customary which always comes natural and should never be forced. He says, “I like to use themes. I come up with my theme and write it in the middle then I connect the dots, I come up with all of these things that are connected to whatever my theme is then I come up with that either rhyme with those or I can use to further describe those things.”

After the artists explained their processed, they passed out examples of similes, and gave the students the remaining time to come up with a short piece themselves.