Thus Spake Zuska

Science Rap

I will admit that rap music has more than once caused me to mutter “These kids today! Their music is just noise! When I was young, our music had a melody!” Or something like that. You know, the stuff mom said when I was young. I won’t even mention how the generous dose of misogyny that seems de rigeur in rap songs makes me feel.

And yet I confess to being delighted today when I was listening to NPR’s Here and Now and heard this story about educational rap. (Scroll down for summary.) Rhythm Rhyme Results (their tag line is “the other three R’s) brings together teachers, musicians, producers, and entrepreneurs to make some really good “noise”. Math and science are two of the curriculum areas for which rap songs have been created. Educational music – what’s not to love about this?

The content-rich lyrics adhere to state and federal curriculum standards and flow to thumping, original music.

I heard a little of the photosynthesis rap on the Here and Now program. (You can listen to a sample of it and other tracks on the RRR website – what great music for teaching!) It was awesome. If something like this can draw more young kids into math and science I am all for it.


  1. #1 Stephen
    June 19, 2008


    Perhaps it’s Rap’s normal propensity to the inane or profane that turns me off.

    Perhaps it’s that rap turns me off that turns my 11 year old on to it. IMO, he’s a better musician than most rap artists.

  2. #2 Maria
    June 19, 2008

    I won’t even mention how the generous dose of misogyny that seems de rigeur in rap songs makes me feel.

    As opposed to the feminist lyrics of traditional bluegrass songs? Or the fat-positive messages of bubblegum pop? Zuska, stop and think for a bit before you slap down that stereotype. You’re playing straight into the hands of racism.

    If I knew shit about the genre I would assign you a remedial listening list – hopefully someone who can do more than merely name-drop Missy Elliott will come along shortly.

  3. #3 Noumena
    June 19, 2008

    I agree with Maria: remember that rap and hip-hop =/= the misogyny-violence-and-political-apathy the recording industry markets primarily to wealthy white adolescents. Indeed, the two are pretty much exact opposites.

    For an example of what hip-hop at its best, I would recommend some Sage Francis.

  4. #4 csrster
    June 19, 2008

    While I don’t have much time for misogyny and homophobia, I really have nothing against a little inanity and profanity. If I had an infinite amount of time to actually research the genre, I suspect that I would actually find quite a lot of hip-hop I liked.

  5. #5 Drew
    June 19, 2008

    The radio does to hip-hop what mcdonalds does to burgers. If you think you don’t like hip-hop because you don’t like what you hear on the radio, you should probably reconsider.

  6. #6 Zuska
    June 19, 2008

    Okay, I am willing to consider that there is lots of woman-positive rap out there that I just don’t know about. This woman-positive stuff, however, is not what I heard the middle school girls listening to at the workshops and industry tours we did for them at K-State. I heard them listening to and singing along with some pretty woman-hatin’ stuff. Is woman-positive rap/hip-hop as commercially successful as the woman-hatin’ stuff?

    I will be the first to admit that I am woefully, laughably out of touch with the current music scene. I apologize if I have offended anyone by what I said, and I certainly didn’t mean to imply that other types of music exemplify feminist virtues (for example, although I like bluegrass music, I have criticized it on my blog for the “I had to kill my cheatin’ woman” tropes that are laced through and through it.)

    So those of you out there who want to educate me about the good stuff I’m missing, go right ahead. I’m listening.

  7. #7 Zuska
    June 19, 2008

    Just to be absolutely clear: I am really sorry to have given offense, which was not at all my intention. Nevertheless, as I blogged about not too long ago, we have to own responsibility for our unintentional as well as intentional acts. Thanks for pointing this instance out to me.

  8. #8 Zuska
    June 19, 2008

    Noumena, thanks for that link. That was stunning.

  9. #9 Maria
    June 19, 2008

    Is woman-positive rap/hip-hop as commercially successful as the woman-hatin’ stuff?

    Is woman-positive anything as commercially successful as the woman-hatin’ stuff? Seems to me that only happens when you redefine “woman-positive” to mean “approving of a woman’s role as a sexbot”.

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