The summer of 1985 was amazing Michael Jordan was named rookie of the year, Microsoft launched the first version of Windows, and my cousin, who came to visit for the summer from Mississippi Valley State introduced me to LL Cool J’s Radio Album.
That was the year that I fell in love with Hip Hop.
“ The momentum of this party, will only increase, the design of this rhyme is a masterpiece.” LL’s strong voice mixed with a heavy downbeat was the perfect storm.
As I listened, I knew that this was something that I wanted to do. I grabbed my notebook and pen and began to write rhymes down. Countless hours were spent in my bedroom creating lyrics over instrumentals.
Friday nights at Bannister Mall was the place to be if you were a teenager in KC. Dipped in my pink Levi’s with white Levi jean jacket, Adidas Cortez ( with no shoestrings of course), and my Swatch watch to top it all off, I would float down the halls of the mall with my friends; Shonette and Neecy.
As we were walking out of the mall to leave, we noticed a group of teenagers in a circle laughing and clapping. The closer we got to the group I could here “Oohs” and “Ahhs” as two boys were battle rappin’. I listened closely as the two went toe to toe but in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to give it a try.
How I entered the contest is fuzzy as it has been a few years, however, what I do remember is words floating out of my mouth like magic. The crowd hung on my every word as hot 16’s flowed from me like a rolling river.
I ran into an old friend a couple of years ago who witnessed this battle and he exclaimed, “Andie, you were way before your time.” I thought about his words and for a long while I thought he was right, but now I know he was wrong.
At 48, I have realized that my time is now.
Today, I have the golden opportunity to remix my love of Hip Hop with Technology and Teaching. I am flying to New York City to create, critically think, communicate, and collaborate with like-minded individuals from around the globe at the #HipHopEd Conference.
My goal is to gather as much information that I can to build a Hip Hop Makerspace. This space would include a music and video studio in every middle and high school within our district. The Hip Hop Makerspace would give our students a safe space that they can unapologetically be themselves. Why not teach them through a lense that they can relate to? Every subject can be integrated with this tool.
Although my path did not take me down the road of Roxanne Roxanne (that’s for you “old heads”), Eve, Nikki, or Cardi, combining my passions will allow me to do something much greater; change the world for the next generation.