Militant Minded: Is Edutainment Still Needed?

“They schools don’t educate/ All they teach the people is lies” – “They Schools”, Dead Prez

It was a typical day in Mrs. Lefkowitz’s world history class. And, as usual, no one was paying attention. Of course, she didn’t mind as long as she was collecting a paycheck. So while the gangstas were fightin’ in the back of the classroom, and the kids on the front row were snoring like barn animals, she just kept on repeating the same lesson about the wonders of Greek civilization that she had been teaching for 20 years. That was until Tyrone Johnson, who had been listening to some ol school BDP on his iPhone, yelled out “in a school that’s ebony/ African history should be pumped up steadily!“ Although his classmates gave him a standing ovation, the otherwise mild-mannered Mrs. Leftkowitz became enraged, called for security, and had Tyrone thrown in jail for inciting a riot…

Since the creation of this country’s public educational system, the achievements of Europeans have been emphasized while the contributions of African people to civilization have either been downplayed or not mentioned at all. But for a brief period, Hip-Hop shook up the academic world and flipped the script with something that KRS-One coined “edutainment.”

Although the music of the conscious era of Hip-Hop (1988-92) was portrayed in the media as something that was gonna make young Black kids wage an armed insurrection against the government, the real threat of the music was that it made Black youth read and question authority, thus having the potential to disrupt the status quo.

Many of us from that era can attest to the fact that it wasn’t third period history class that taught us about Black culture, but the music of Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, and Poor Righteous Teachers. The conscious movement was so powerful during that time, that it even spread into the universities and forced reluctant administrators to open the door for many African-centered scholars to drop some science on the students.

So the question today is, can edutainment still move the crowd?

While some may argue that the kids of today will not accept historical information in music, that is far from the truth.If rappers can name drop old school wrestlers like Ric Flair and ’70s sitcom characters like “Phil Drummond and ’em” from “Different Strokes”, then they should be able to drop historical facts in their lyrics as well.

Every school year, there are meetings being held in cities across the country about “the plight of African American students” and how to prevent Black students from dropping out of school. Most of the time, these meetings end with more questions than answers. Rarely, is the idea of a more African-centered curriculum given serious consideration nor is the idea of using Hip Hop to relay information.

Like most institutions in America, the educational system has been resistant to change. Teaching children that Christopher Columbus discovered America works for them.

But we must make it clear that it doesn’t work for us.

Also, while many instructors may criticize gangsta rap, they feel more comfortable with their students listening to Chief Keef instead of Immortal Technique. And reading street novels like Diary of a Broke Pimp instead of books that might put them on the hot seat such as Lies My Teacher Told Me by Dr. James Loewen or They Came Before Columbus by Dr. Ivan Van Sertima.

Maybe, there is a reason for this.

According to a recent CNN article, the U.S. Justice Department has accused the school system of Lauderdale County, Mississippi of operating a “school to prison pipeline,” for sending mostly African American and disabled children to jail for minor disciplinary infractions.

Apparently, Dead Prez was right when they claimed on “They Schools” that “the same people who control the school system, control the prison system.”

So, as we begin another school year, will it be business as usual or are we gonna put our heads together, and come up with workable solutions to solve the education dilemma facing the nation ?

Although some may blame the lack of Black men volunteering in the school system as the problem, historically, those who speak truth are not exactly welcomed with open arms. During the early ’90s, it was not unusual for Black leaders and scholars to be met by protesters when lecturing at colleges.

Today, Historically Black Colleges and Universities could play a major role in using Hip-Hop to teach African-centered courses, though, but instead of using their lyceum fees to bring in scholars and lectures, they’d rather blow the money on a Waka Flocka Flame Homecoming Show.

So, if we can’t depend on educational institutions , to whom do we turn for help?

We turn to ourselves.

According to Durham, North Carolina activist Tim Smith, we cannot depend on a school system where the main focus is to prepare children to pass a test at the end of the year to solve our problem. The solution must come from the community.

“You have to make children realize why education is important, “says Smith. “There’s nothing magic that needs to happen. It’s just hard work.” And some people are already doing it.

For example, Dr. Marc Imhotep Cray, a.k.a. The RBG Street Scholar, started the RBG Communiversity/RBG Street Scholars Think Tank in an effort to use the Internet as a way to bridge the gap between Hip-Hop and African culture.

With the technology at our fingertips, there is no reason why we cannot create our own methods of making sure our children know all there is to know, not only about Black history, but current events and how they are going to impact their lives.

One simple solution that I am going to implement is to send out daily #militantminded tweets with links to Afro-centric information. I suggest that others implement similar strategies.

As Public Enemy once had as its core mission to create 5000 Black leaders, our task today is to develop 5,000 street scholars.

Like J Ivy’s classic verse on Kanye West’s “Never Let Me Down”:

We are all here for a reason, on a particular path/You don’t need a curriculum to know that you’re part of the math.”

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. For more information about the No Warning Shots Fired lecture series, contact or visit Follow on Twitter (@truthminista).

  • Matthew Saint Cyr

    I clicked on the link to this article hoping to really hear some honest discussion on why conscious hip-hop seems to have declined in importance, relative to other types. Instead, what we got was a list of logical phallacies, and no real talk about why it’s declined, just more pining for the early- to mid-nineties.

  • dominicancoke

    Concious hip hop was made for the concious mind if you on some chief keef what ever his name is or lil wayne 2 chainz fast food rap you dont wanna hear it you’re too ignorant to listen to krs one or talib kweli immortal technique black thought or nas dead prez thinkibg hurts for ignorant people so they turn the radio on and eat fast food music eat actual fast food and watch fast food tv the maury show jersey shore love and hop hop ignorant hip hop is detrimental think about it why you think some kids in nyc drink syzzurp in two cups? Lil wayne.or got crip n bloods all over west coast gansta rap and fake blood wannabee lil wayne got white kids claiming blood in the
    suburbs whites run hip hop not jay not diddy not baby not weezy but the white guy they answer think white record executives would allow a music that promotes white problems like suicide and drug over dose and pedophilia which are mainly white problems a kid shot him self way back while listening to marilyn manson it was a.national outrage he was white white girl missing is all over the news meanwhile 300 blacks and 100 latinos are murdered weekly 2pac said it they dont really care about us educate your self cut the fast food out,of every aspect of your life dont be a sheep go to a white neighborhood.and see if there is a liquor store.on every other corner as well as fast food joints

  • hoeyuno

    we have the same problem in canadian education. Aboriginals are down played and mostly made out to be primitive savages. North americas diverse cultures is what makes it great.

  • dominicancoke

    There should be a black history chanel and latino american history chanel cause if let whites keep on talking bout u.s history we havent acomplished.nada

  • hoeyuno

    If you haven’t downloaded techs “the martyr” get that shit. Its album quality and no dj screaming over the tracks.

  • Pingback: Is Edutainment Still Needed | News Media Source, Entertainment News, Media Source, Celeb News, News Media()

  • Pingback: Militant Minded: Is Edutainment Still Needed? : KPR1 – Keeping It Positive in Hip Hop & R&B()

  • Pingback: Militant Minded: Is Edutainment Still Needed? « 420rapmusicvideos()

  • Pingback: Wiz Khalifa Ft Lil Wayne & Young Jeezy – Work Hard Play Hard (Remix)()

  • Pingback: Wiz Khalifa – Work Hard Play Hard Remix Lyrics (Ft Young Jeezy …()

  • Pingback: Poor Righteous Teachers-Rock Dis Funky Joint « messymandella()