Aim: How do we find rhythm in words to create hip hop songs?
Summary: Students explore lyrics and message as they learn “Time of Grace,” and explore ways to create their own hip hop songs.
Materials: Musical Explorers CD or online audio
Standards: GA: ESGMK-2.CR.1, ESGMK-2.CR.2, ESGMK-2.PR.1, ESGMK-2.RE.1, ESGMK-2.RE.2, ESGMK-2.CN.1, ESGMK-2.CN.2
SC: GM.CR.NL-AH.1, GM.CR.NL-AH.2, GM.PR.NL-AH.3, GM.RE.NL-AH.6, GM.RE.NL-AH.7, GM.CN.NL-AH.8, GM.CN.NL-AH.9
Vocabulary: flow, freestyle, message
“Time of Grace” is an original song by Basik Lee. The song is about looking within oneself and rising to the challenge of greatness.
Sing “Time of Grace”
- Listen to “Time of Grace” Track 15.
- Sing along to the hook of “Time of Grace,” using Track 16.
- Like many hip hop songs, the lyrics of “Time of Grace” have a message—something that the musicians want you to learn.
- What do you think the message of the song is?
- Read some additional lyrics from the song, and discuss how those lyrics communicate Basik Lee’s message. Listen again to “Time of Grace,” Track 15.
Time of Grace
For me the time has come
To face my fears, there’s no time to run
So first I look at myself to see what
I have become
The parts that scare me accepted, see what
can be done
To chase the fears away
It seems so clear today
What I must do and must become, what
must be done
To let us know what happens to our
problems once we run
Away from the cause, start blaming the flaws
On other circumstances that have
always been apparent
It seems the goal of life today is
always be a parent
And never be a child, and never see a smile
Unless it comes with some sort
of monetary gains
When I really look at all of it, it seems
just kind of strange
To not find happiness in thoughts
that are child like
Has got us all so serious and lost in a wild fight
Time might seem like it’s coming to a stop
But to me it’s a dream, we’re just waiting
for the buzzer on the clock
It’s our Time of Grace to find
the greatness within
Our time and space to finally face this prison
We’ll find our place define the state we live in
No time to waste it’s time to make
it happen right now
Gotta keep it moving
Trying not to get caught in illusion
In losing the views that been fed to me
And then using those rules as my weaponry
As my tools and I choose to give lessons free
On the corner of the street, just performing
on a beat
Done by my man, with his hands in front of
his mouth and teeth
And what comes out relief or should
I say release
And this that I call beautiful they
saying is deceased?
This hip hop game man I swear it’s a beast
And as long as I stay true to it I’m staying unique
Whether my aim is peace or whether
my aim’s the streets
The one thing that I hope to never claim
So I make sure every word I say stays
to the beat
With a rhyme that’s got nothing to hide
but is making you seek
I’m sorry if the words that I spit are sorta swift
But my thoughts got me feeling
it’s an art I ought to give
I’ve fallen into this new understanding
And now it’s calling for movement demanding
that I follow a path
And in this what really makes me laugh
Is the one making demands is
the man in the reflection
Expecting rejection but instead acceptance
Is what I received when I first met myself
Agreeing that I needed to change
for the best of health
To be in my future steps, to show
that the future’s left
Up to us, and if we really wanna change
What we must do is help ourselves
Cause with us is really where the problem lies
It’s like we’re taking it all with us so all of it dies
Man, are we really that twisted
Yup but we can change cause
we’re really that gifted
Really that passionate, really just after is
If you wanna change all I’m asking is
Explore MCing with “Time of Grace”
- In the song “Time of Grace,” the beat is made from samples of acoustic instruments: piano, trombone, and conga (a type of drum, see Gino’s video for more about congas). The hook of the song fits together with the sound of the conga. Listen to the conga alone, Track 17, then listen to the conga and the lyrics together. Flow is the way an MC’s lyrics fit with the beat underneath.
- MCs often encourage audiences to move to the music with a call and response chant.
- Using the hip hop rhythm track, Track 18, demonstrate the role of the MC using the examples below.
- Ask for student volunteers to take on the role of MC. Once they have tried the example above, ask them to come up with their own personal call and response. Try prompts related to different themes (e.g., names, food, sports).
- In hip hop, the meaning of the term freestyle has evolved over time. Originally, a freestyle was a verse that was literally “free of style”—it had no particular structure, but was just an opportunity to show off one’s lyrical skill. Today, it is most often defined as an improvisational verse performed on the spot by an artist. Hip hop artists can often refer to people and things in their immediate surroundings as they are creating their freestyle.
- Select a general topic that students can generate multiple ideas about (e.g., favorite foods).
- You can either listen to the hip hop rhythm track, Track 18, or have the class create a rhythm using body percussion, or beatbox using the activity outlined in the Creative Extension from Lesson 1 (p. 57).
- Have each student speak a word in rhythm, generating a “word wall” of the terms that students have created.
- With the unifying theme in mind, have students contribute to create a simple hook to go with the beat through group brainstorming. The hook can be a few words as in “Hip Hop Hooray,” or a phrase like, “It’s a time of grace / to find the greatness within.”
- Have students create a short freestyle verse to be performed either in groups or individually. It does not need to have any particular form or even rhyme.
- Perform the new verses with the hook. Have students form a cypher, which is a collective circle that is commonly formed during a freestyle to promote community around the artist who is performing.
- For an added challenge, allow individual students to come up with verses on the spot, keeping the same beat. The hook that the class created can be performed as students switch off to perform their verse.
Creative Extension: Create Your Own Graffiti Artwork
- Graffiti has an important role in the culture of hip hop. Graffiti started as a highly stylized form of decorative writing that quickly expanded into broader styles of decorative arts. Although sometimes derided as vandalism, artists use graffiti to communicate messages that they feel are important for their communities to know. One of the original elements of hip hop, graffiti calls for social change just as hip hop lyrics do. Use SG24 to create your own graffiti message.
Literacy Extension: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and When the Beat Was Born
The text to the classic children’s book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault makes great lyrics for a hip hop song. Using either the basic drumbeat, Track 13, or the hip hop rhythm track, Track 18, you can rap the text of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, with the students joining in on the hook:
“Chicka chicka boom boom.Will there be enough room?” Students at the appropriate reading level can stand in a circle, or “cypher,” and pass the book around, with each student rapping a different page, and all students joining in on the hook.
When the Beat Was Born by Laban Carrick Hill is the true story of DJ Kool Herc, who is credited with creating hiphop in the 1970s. It tells the story of how he came to be a DJ, how kids stopped fighting in order to break dance, and how hip hop was born.
Musical Word Wall
Add the words flow, freestyle, and message to the Musical Word Wall.
SG24 ↓ Download File
Musical Explorers Audio Tracks
Go to Concert Preparation: First Semester