Every year the choral department combines history, reading, writing, music composition, technology, and recording as part of our annual rap project. Students are placed in groups of four, must write their own lyrics, compose their background music in GarageBand, and then record their voices rapping their lyrics over the music they composed. The mp3 files they produce are priceless!
We are moving this year’s project to May- what a great end of the year project! If you are another school interested in joining us on the project, use the outline below, or Contact Us for more information on how we can collaborate!
History of Hip Hop/ Rap and Subject Matter
It is important that students understand the history of the Hip Hop movement, why it began, and how it evolved into the rap music that students are familiar with today on the radio. A quick google search will reveal information and documentaries about the movement. PBS did a documentary about the Hip Hop movement, and a transcript of the documentary can be found here- historydetectiveshiphop . It is important that students understand that hip hop began as a quest for societal change and equality, and that the lyrics they write should have a deep meaning for them as well. For my 6th grade classes, they use the rap to introduce themselves to the class and to let us learn more about themselves. The chorus and bridge focuses on something they have in common with their other group members. For my 7th/ 8th grade classes who have worked on this previously, they are allowed to branch out and pick a topic that they are passionate about.
Writing the Lyrics
It is helpful to do a warm-up activity to discuss couplet rhyme scheme before tackling the entire rap. Last year we used the New York Times 2015 Rap Contest as our warm-up activity. They have several lesson plans that accompany their contest that you can use in the classroom. We instructed the students to focus on a couplet rhyme scheme, since that is what we use in our own rap project.
After reviewing their individual work and making sure they understood how to rhyme every two lines, we started our project. Use this template to have your students work in groups of four and write their rap! rap template 2016 After deciding on their topic, they can work together to write their intro, chorus, bridge, and outro. It makes the whole process easier if they divide up the verses (one person take the first half of verse one, next person take the second half of verse one, and so on). Note that the second page of the document gives examples of each section using “Ice, Ice, Baby” and “Thrift Shoppe.” Most of my kids know both of these songs, and it was helpful for them to understand the different parts of the song. Make sure to use the clean versions when providing listening examples.
Composing and Recording the Music
After approving each group’s lyrics, it is time to start composing music in garageband. Use this document and the following YouTube videos as a resource! HipHopStructureinGarageBand After composing the music, record the student’s voices on top of their music and share as a mp3 file. I will post samples of our students lyrics and music as soon as we finish the project! Contact us if you need any additional clarification on the project.