This week, my good friend, Deimosa Webber-Bey, Librarian at Scholastic, shared a video with me, and it was everything I could have ever dreamed of and more. It's a video of Ludacris freestyling a children's book to iSpy beat, a song originally performed by Kyle and Lil Yachty. Popular morning show host, J Cruz, at LA's Power 106 has a recurring segment where he invites hip hop artists to create a freestyle of the children's book Llama Llama Red Pajama by Ana Dewdney over beats currently dominating the airwaves. This, my friends, has turned out to be absolute brilliance, and now I want to do a hip hop storytime every week. The wheels in my mind have started turning, and haven't stopped since I first heard about this.
Hip Hop Storytime
There are so many possibilities with this... Not only could you get teens involved with reading to kids, but I think a lot of kids would have fun pacing a story to a beat. There are so many books that rhyme that could really go great with hip hop tracks! It's been a dream of mine have a music program where teens get to create their own beats, imagine them creating their own beats, then putting those beats together with children's stories. I'm sure that as long as these beat/story combinations stay within the library for educational purposes, all will remain right with the world - but this does beg the question, is this even legal?
Can I Get This As An Album Please?
When I first saw the Ludacris' video, I binged on all of the other videos. The Ludacris video is clearly my fav. I feel like I need an album of hip hop beats and rappers reading children's books, but is there some kind of copyright laws regarding this? Honestly, this seems like such an awesome marketing opportunity, but I'm sure once someone tries to capitalize off of this, the lawyers and contracts will come out of the woodworks.
Hip Hop in the Library
When I think of hip hop in libraries, I always think of the Queens Public Library which has been the first library to have an actual hip hop cooordinator - legendary DJ, VJ, producer, and hip hop pioneer "Uncle" Ralph McDaniels. You might not be able to be that committed, but incorporating hip hop into your teen library programming could have great impact on the teens you serve. When I surveyed the teens at the East Orange Public Library, the results showed that there was a significant interest in music, so I began incorporating music into my programs. Freestyling children's books to beats would be a more hands on way to get youth involved with both hip hop and books.
I'm going to leave you with this video by YouTuber DeStorm Power who create this awesome freestyle using book titles only. Imagine this freestyle challenge with your teens. I bet you'd be blown away by what they come up with.
**Check out The Freechild Project for more information on the benefits of hip hop programming and youth. There's also check out this YALSA blog post about the Hip Hop Coding Summit and how to implement this hip hop and coding program at your library.