In the Mix

Taking hip-hop to the classroom

April 29th, 2016
COURTESY TODAY'S FUTURE SOUNDDr. Raphael Travis talks about hip-hop and beat making with students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa on Thursday.


Dr. Raphael Travis talks about hip-hop and beat making with students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa on Thursday.

Hip-hop music is so mainstream these days, most fans expect to hear or see elements of the culture intertwined with many forms of popular media. But did you know educators have started to incorporate the genre into their lesson plans and training materials?

University of Hawaii instructor and PhD candidate Kimberly Corbin is teaming up with Oakland-based hip-hop ambassador/producer Dr. Elliot Gann and Texas State University professor Dr. Raphael Travis to bring hip-hop to a pair of Honolulu high schools this week, followed by a beat battle fundraiser on Saturday at Kaka’ako Agora that’s open to the public.

“We always read so many negative things (in media), and as an educator I would really like the community to see that many of us are working hard to find ways to reach all children and to train our teacher candidates to do the same,” Corbin said via email. “The work we will do ... this week is important for the kids and for the faculty.”

Corbin, Gann and Travis took part in the 2016 Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity at the Hawai’i Convention Center on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, they visited three classes at Farrington High School; Kailua High School students got a visit yesterday morning, followed by a workshop in the afternoon at UH-Manoa.

According to Corbin, students can benefit from multimedia presentations that combine “theory, rationale and practical strategies to explore the use of hip-hop culture as an instructional tool to support student engagement and achievement.” Hip-hop culture helps foster positive growth in families and communities, she said.

Saturday’s Sound Wave Beat Battle Fundraiser aims to connect the classroom experience students received this week with a public event that promotes the same concepts and helps raise money to support future educational efforts. The all-ages event takes place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Kaka’ako Agora and is produced by Today’s Future Sound.

Admission to Sound Wave is $5 for those under 18 and $10 for those 18-and-over. If you’re 18+ and bring a can of food to donate, you’ll pay $7 at the door. Email or visit for more information.
Jason Genegabus has covered the local entertainment, nightlife, music and bar scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at

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