Within my classroom, I have a majority of male students. I also have a variation in races and ethnicities. In order for my students to feel connected to this unit, I must choose artists that speak about topics they can relate to, especially when dealing with poetry, and artists who represent my students. For this reason, I have chosen artists of different ethnicities and an even amount of male and females. While I do not have many females in my classes, the female voice should be heard in this unit, so an appreciate for female talent, especially in the rap industry, can be motivated.
Many people dislike rap music or ban it for reasons of vulgar language and talk of drugs, sex, pimping, violence, and misogyny. While these issues do exist in rap, rap should not be banned from the classroom. In fact, rap lyrics should be invited into the classroom as literature to read and discuss. This unit will not encourage these unlawful and immoral issues, but address them and heighten my students' awareness of what these artists are saying. From there, we can, as a class, discuss whether or not we agree with the artists' views and have a debate about these social issues.
This unit is not designed to question students' morals and/or values, but if a specific rap lyric brings up conversation on something unlawful or immoral, I will not shy away from opening up a discussion on the given topic. For example, in some of the rap lyrics I chose for this unit, the male artist refers to women as "bitches." This small example of how rap can be misogynistic can lead to a discussion in my classroom about whether or not referring to a woman as a "bitch" is appropriate or not. My students will listen to their favorite music regardless, so why not use this music as an entryway into great classroom lessons and discussions? We might just invite students to question if they like what they are choosing to listen to or not.
On the other hand, I had to choose poetry for my students to read and write about. There are some poems, such as Tupac's poems, which will be easier for my students to identify with since they are written by one of their favorite rappers, but there are other poems written by artists they have not heard of. These new artists will have to win the respect of my students, if I want my students to enjoy poetry and feel a strong tie to it the way they feel tied to rap. It is my job to choose poems that speak to my students; I cannot chose poems with topics irrelevant to my students, for most of my students are extremely egocentric and believe if something does not directly apply to them, they do not have the time to waste on it. While this might be a sad reality, it is important to know your audience (your students) and entertain them the best you can while giving them the opportunity to learn.