Monthly Archives: April 2012

Why Would Anyone Buy a Book?

I read this on Nathan Bransford’s blog as part of his regular feature, This Week in Books

Meanwhile, publishing industry sage Mike Shatzkin has some very helpful context on why publishers are so reluctant to let libraries lend e-books. This is definitely a tricky issue for publishers, and I don’t envy them being on the wrong side of public sentiment on this one. Publishers are looking at a landscape where library patrons don’t even have to go to the library to borrow an e-book – they can do it from home. Why would anyone buy an e-book once they figured out how to legally get tons of books for free just as easily?

I had to respond to that.

Why would anyone buy ebooks when you can get them for free?

Good question, but a few more come to mind . . .

  • Why does anyone buy books now when you can get them for free at the library?
  • How are ebooks any different?

Here’s my take on this whole debate.

I love books . . . but I rarely buy them.

Pretty much all of my reading comes thanks to the public library.

I fear a day when printed books won’t be as accessible and ebooks will be the norm. If you still can’t access those books for free from the library, it would be a great shame.

People who can’t afford to buy books will be out of the reading loop. Avid readers who simply can’t buy everything they read would also lose out.

How are ebooks different from printed books?

Printed books fall apart over time. They take abuse as they are lugged around by the library patrons. Every time they are thrown into the library chute, they suffer extra abuse. It’s only natural that after repeated borrowing, a book will be so damaged that it will need to be replaced.

Ebooks, on the other hand are permanent by their very nature. You could buy one ebook and copy it to every single patron in the library at the same time. You would also never have to replace the ebook EVER.

That is a big difference!

Making ebooks equivalent to paper books is the best option. 

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. If a library buys one copy of a book, only one patron can borrow it at a time. Libraries are already doing this and many have multiple copies of the same ebook just like they do with popular printed books.

Here’s how to make it more fair. 

Libraries can buy the same copy of an ebook every few years like how they’d have to replace bound books that start to fall apart over time. I’m sure we could come up with a formula to make it work and everyone would be happy.

Public Libraries are very important!

I hope publishers don’t underestimate the value of the Public Library. I have bought books that I’ve enjoyed for free simply because I needed to have them for my collection. I don’t buy books very often but when I do, I often buy more than one copy. I give them as gifts, I give them away to students.

What’s you take on this debate?

Please leave a comment below.

The Word is Bond Weekly Podcast (The First 5)

Recently, The Word is Bond redesigned their entire website to help bring you the best in underground hip-hop. There are daily news articles, album reviews, music videos, interviews, editorials, and much, much more. It really is an excellent online hip-hop magazine.

I am proud to head up The Word is Bond Podcast and just in case you haven’t been following the weekly shows I’ve been posting, I’ve embedded the first five episodes below. Please head on over to the podcast page and check it weekly for some great hip-hop. You can also subscribe to the feed so you won’t miss a single episode.

Every week we bring you the best in hip-hop mixsets, artist interviews, hip-hop history spotlights, guest deejay sets, roundtable discussions, and great music. Let us know what you think of our programming. I hope you enjoy the show!


DOPEfm Old School Mix (Free Download)

Here’s an old school hip-hop mix for you to enjoy.

Download it for free, play it straight through, or skip through the tracks.

This mix really bumps.

Every song is mixed and blended together. It features music from Run-DMC, K-Solo, O.C., Nice & Smooth, Gangstarr, Audio Two, Eric B & Rakim, A Tribe Called Quest, MC Lyte, Cypress Hill, Redman, Nas, and many more.

Download DOPEfm’s Old School Hip-Hop Mixed Album

The Rise of the West Coast (Know Your History Podcast)

For the first few years of its existence, hip-hop was something that you had to experience live. There were no commercial recordings, no rap albums, no 12-inch singles, no rap music on the radio. You had to go out to a block party or a club to see a DJ throwing down a set.
Hip-hop started with the DJ. It was born in the Bronx but not content to stay tethered to only one area. The culture and the music spread throughout the entire world in less than a decade. One of its first landing spots was some two-thousand miles away in the city of Los Angeles.
The interesting thing about hip-hop culture is how it can have very distinct regional sounds and styles. Wherever it travels, hip-hop is able to make itself at home and flourish there. This was definitely the case on the West Coast. It took a few years before the rest of the world would sit up and take notice of the unique sound and style of West Coast rap music, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
Welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. I’m your host Chase March and for the next half hour, we will be exploring the Rise of the West Coast. If you’re tuning us in on the new Word is Bond podcast, it’s great to have you here. This is the third season of this show and we’re proud to have partnered up with The Word is Bond to expand our coverage here on DOPEfm. You can hear us every Saturday night on 93.3 CFMU on your radio dial or worldwide on For more info on us and what we do, visit

You can download the podcast for free, stream it with the player below, or continue reading.

West coast hip-hop seemed to come out of nowhere with the advent of Gangsta Rap in the 1980s, but the scene had been developing quietly under the radar for many years prior to that. Just like in its birthplace of New York, hip-hop had to be experienced in those early days and the scene in Los Angeles was flourishing.
Uncle Jamm’s Army was one of the premier party promoters in L.A. They started gaining a lot of attention, fans, and respect in 1978, one year before the first rap recordings came out of New York. They were a collective of DJs and musicians and pretty much ruled the hip-hop scene in Los Angeles.
In 1981, the first West Coast rap label was started. It was called Rappers Rap Records and the first group on the roster was Disco Daddy and Captain Rapp. They released a single that year but it was there song “Bad Times” two years later that made the most noise.

That was “Bad Times” by Disco Daddy and Captain Rapp. It came out in 1983, and by that time, the Los Angeles hip-hop scene was becoming quite large. We still aren’t in the G-funk age but you can almost hear the roots of that sound in this song. The synthesized baseline and the singable chorus really got people moving on the dance floor.
By this time, the parties that Uncle Jamm’s Army were throwing were becoming legendary. They needed to find bigger and bigger venues to accommodate the crowds. They even did a few gigs at the LA Sports Arena filling the stadium to capacity every time. Founding member Roger Clayton was able to bring in famous East Coast groups to these shows such as Run DMC, Whodini, Kurtis Blow, and L.L. Cool J.
But unlike those East Coast groups, Uncle Jamm’s Army had a more electro sound. They were influenced by a German group by the name of Kraftwerk that had been around since 1970. They released an album called “Autobahn” in 1974 and toured it extensively bringing this unique sound to North America.

Kraftwerk’s influence is sometimes overlooked but it really shouldn’t be. They have had a huge influence in early hip-hop music and you can hear it in the work of Uncle Jamm’s Army. This is “Dial-a-Freak” which was released in 1984. This is your host Chase March. Make sure you stay tuned as we will continue to explore the rise of hip-hop culture on the west coast in this month’s edition of Know Your History

That was typical of what you’d hear at an Uncle Jamm’s Army show back in the early 1980s. The electro sound was pretty popular in Los Angeles and their shows were hugely successful. It didn’t take long for the music of the parties, the clubs, and the arena shows to make it to the radio.
In 1983, local radio station KDAY 1530 am began spinning rap music 24 hours a day. They were the first radio station to dedicate their entire programming schedule to hip-hop music. They even beat New York to the punch there.
That same year, Egyptian Lover, who was part of Uncle Jamm’s Army, came out with his album entitled “On the Nile.” which featured a reworking of his popular single “Egypt Egypt.” The b-side of that single had the track “What is a DJ if he can’t Scratch?” and that’s the record I’d like to play for you now.
This is Chase March and we’re exploring the rise of West Coast hip-hop on this month’s edition of Know Your History. Stay tuned.
That was “What is a DJ if he can’t Scratch?” by Egyptian Lover and it was the b-side to his hit single “Egypt Egypt.”
We’ve been exploring the rise of hip-hop music on the West Coast and in particular in Los Angeles. So far we’ve only explored the late 1970s up to about 1983, and that was the year we first heard from a young MC by the name of Ice T. He released a record called “Cold Wind Madness” also known as “The Coldest Rap.” It had the electro type sound that Uncle Jamm’s Army was famous for. In fact, Ice T was pretty much the only rapper they had in the crew at the time.
In the following year, we were also introduced to Dr. Dre and DJ Yella. Before NWA, they were part of The World Class Wreckin’ Cru. They released a single “Slice” with the b-side “Kru Groove.” One year later, they released their full length album “Surgery.” It went on to sell 50,000 copies but this was only the beginning for Los Angeles based hip-hop moving large numbers.
Gangsta rap was on the forefront and it was about to change everything. Most people tend to associate the West Coast with this genre of rap music, but the truth is, it was starting to take shape across the United States by 1986. I covered Gangsta Rap in detail in Episode 12 of Know Your History. You can go to right now, click on the Hip Hop History tab to read the article and download that podcast.
The West Coast had been building a hip-hop scene for years but the rest of the country didn’t sit up and take notice until Ice T released “6 in the Morning” in 1986.
Two years later, NWA burst on to the scene with “Straight Outta Compton. This group consisted of Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, Arabian Prince, Easy E. MC Ren, and Ice Cube. The group went on to sell ten million records and pretty much ignite the popularity of Gangsta rap.
JJ Fad, an all girl group, released their self-titled album in 1988 as well. Their single “Supersonic” went platinum and stayed on the Billboard music charts for about four months. They were also the first female rap group to be nominated for a Grammy.
West Coast artists had proved that they could sell records and that hip-hop was equally at home on either coast. Of course this is only the start of the story. The next chapter is all about Gangsta Rap, which I’ve already covered, but the third chapter is about the rise of G-funk. Stay tuned to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge as we will be explroing that topic in the future.
If you like what you’ve heard today make sure you visit We bring you the best in underground hip-hop each and every Saturday night on 93.3 CFMU. We have a podcast and live webstreaming available as well. You can also visit my site, the official blog of the show, at
And thanks to our new partners at The Word is Bond. Look forward to hearing a Know Your History segment every month there, as well as some exclusive interviews and bonus podcasts. Until next time, this is Chase March saying, You Better Know Your History. 

Free download

A to Z: Free Smartboard Game for Your Classroom

I’d like to share with you a game that I designed for the Smartboard. I’ve played it with several classes over the past two years and it has always been a hit.

I got the idea of it from this electronic game that I saw in the toy store one day.

I have seen many different variations of this game over the years so I thought I’d take a stab at designing my own version of the game.

This is the play screen of the game. There is a timer at the top of the game and I usually set it to two minutes. When the time has counted down an alarm will sound.

This is what the topic screen looks like. There are 24 different topics to choose from.

By clicking on one of the question marks, a category appears. The top left corner show the category of “TV Shows”

You then go back to the play screen. I usually have the students play this game in pairs. That way, students aren’t as nervous and if they happen to draw a blank, they have somewhere there to help them out.

All they need to do to play is say the name of a TV show such as “M*A*S*H” and then touch the letter M. That letter tile will then disappear. The goal is to come up with an example that fits the category for every single letter of the alphabet.
For example,
S could be “Spongebob Squarepants” or “Star Trek”
F could be for “Flintstones” or “Fairly Odd Parents”
You do not need to call out the examples in alphabetical order. The goal is to clear the board in the 2 minutes of time allotted. Just make sure that the students call out the example clearly so you can judge their answers as you go along.

I couldn’t fit the letter “X” or “Z” on the gameboard but if a student has an example for those letters, they can always just write the letter down on the board for bonus points.

The great thing about this file is that you can change the categories to suit your school or needs, or you can just download it and play it as it is.

This game is a lot of fun. I hope you will enjoy playing it with your class.

Download A to Z: Smartboard game

Download The Game from Smart Exchange

More Teaching Tips

Chasing Content – April 2007

Cover to Secret Origins #50, the last issue of...Image via Wikipedia

I’m still working on making a “Best Of” post for every single month I’ve blogged. To that end, I thought I would serve you up a second edition of Chasing Content this month. This way we can look back at what I was doing five years ago at this time.

Read all of the posts from April 2007

or just these favourites

Secret Origins – Well before I ever started this blog online, I started something very similar to it in an old coil notebook. I mused about those times five years ago when I wrote this article. That book was the first time I ever used the title “Silent Cacophony.”

Words Spoken are Not Premeditated – “Have you ever been surprised by what you said? Of course—but that would be impossible if you knew in advance what you were going to say.” What a great quote from Robert J Swayer’s novel Mindscan. It inspired this post.

Radio Theatre – I took my class to the radio station and we performed a radio play live on the air. It was an amazing evening that I just had to document.

Gender, Race, and Colour – I don’t think we need to use language that calls attention to one’s race, gender, or colour. Everyone is different and unique. It doesn’t matter if you are a male or a female, what race or ethnicity you are, or what colour your skin is. We are all people and shoudl be treated fairly and with the proper respect.

Cultural Influence – In this post, I discuss how my fiction writing seems to parallel my songwriting. It’s an interesting conection and I wonder if other writers find the same thing happens when they write.

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A Novel a Month

I am continuing to document everything I read over the course of this year. So far, I have grouped my posts by theme; Hip-Hop Memoirs, Graphic Novels, and now here are the novels I have read in addition to The Hunger Games . . .

School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Lillian’s restaurant isn’t open on Monday nights. Once a month she uses that time to run a cooking class for beginners. This novel focuses on one of her classes. We see eight students from very different walks of life brought together for this unconventional cooking school. Lillian shares her love of cooking and is a patient and kind teacher who helps her students learn not just about food but about life.

I must admit that I picked up this book for two reasons. As a writer, I am interested in arena stories, stories where a group of characters come together due to the setting of the book. I want to write a story that takes place in one specific spot and thought this might inspire me to do that.

The second reason, I chose to read this book is because I really don’t understand the fascination with cooking. I know how to prepare a few meals and pretty much stick to those same ones over and over again. I don’t seek out new recipes or new foods. I tend to enjoy plain and easy meals. I thought by reading this I might get an appreciation of the art of cooking and see the joy some people find in it.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the book. There are some beautifully written passages and poetic metaphors but I didn’t feel that these characters were brought together for any larger purpose. The novel is more like a set of short stories. We take turns diving into the characters lives as each chapter focuses on one particular student.

Winter Town by Stephen Edmond

I knew I had to read this book when I read the inside jacket cover . . .

Told from two perspectives, this funny and honest novel . . . is a uniquer combination of text, comic strips, and art. It’s an indie movie in a book, perfect for the inner outcast and lovelorn nerd in all of us.

I love how the first half of the book is told from the boy’s perspective and how part of his thinking process is shown through his use of comic strips and sketches. We learn a lot more about his friend / girlfriend when the perspective changes for the second half of the story.

It’s a compelling story and a beautiful book.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I have been a fan of the work that Neil Gaiman has done in comics and graphic novels for a long time now. I had heard of this book and the animated film that it spawned but hadn’t paid either of them much attention. That was a mistake. This book is captivating and I found it really hard to put down.

It tells the story of a young girl who travels through a mysterious door to discover a brand new world on the other side. Things seems remarkably similar but different and interesting all at the same time. She then discovers that she has “another mother” and “another father” and that they want her to stay with them forever. Coraline has to fight “with all her wits and courage to save herself and return to her ordinary life.”

It really is a great read and although it seems similar to Alice in Wonderland or the Narnia series, it is original and wonderful executed.

I’m a DJ Hero

Look what I found for $10 at the Giant Tiger!

It’s DJ Hero for the Nintendo Wii. I really like how much it looks and feels like a turntable a scratch deejay would use. And I love that it was on sale for a fraction of the original cost.

Here is a screen cap of the game. You can see that a record is spinning and that there are circles approaching the bottom of the screen. You need to press the correct button on the turntable controller when the record note passes over the button.

The music on the record is split into three different tracks or streams. The blue stream is the music backdrop, the red stream is for sound effects, and the green stream is all about the vocals. Of course, real records don’t work this way at all, but it really does work for the game play.

As you work your way through the challenges, you get to battle some celebrity deejays including DJ Q-Bert and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan.

In the above picture you can see the green stream on the right has a scratch symbol. To perform a scratch you need to hold down the button on the controller while moving the platter back and forth. The red line shows an open box approaching. You can tap out any pattern that you choose at this point to add some interesting sound effects to the mix.

I like how the game gives you chances to freestyle. There are portions where you can use an effects knob to filter the sound of the record, where you can use the crossfader to cut between two different vocal streams, and places where you can put a backspin on the record to repeat a certain section.

This game doesn’t exactly give you the DJ experience. Real records and real mixes just don’t work this way. Deejaying is a difficult skill and requires things that simply wouldn’t work in a video game setting. That being said, I appreciate how the game designers have made this a difficult game. You need to press buttons rapidly, control the effects knob, crossfader, and turntable platter, and watch out for times when you can get special bonuses.

This game is worth picking up if you find it on sale. I want to pick up a second unit so I can battle against a live opponent.

One word of caution though, the game allows you to add a player to sing vocals but due to the nature of cutting, scratching, and adding sound effects, the vocal mix is quite disjointed. I wouldn’t recommend buying a microphone solely for this game. Stick to the tables and if you like the art of deejaying, trying moving on to the real thing.

More DJ tips and advice

Or you can try

Let the Smartboard be Your Artist

A Smartboard is a great tool to have in the classroom. It lets us do much more than a regular blackboard or whiteboard.

Today, I am going to show you how to use the built-in picture library.

Say you wanted to get an image of a soccer player for a lesson. Without a Smatboard, you probably would have drawn a stick-figure on the board and a circle beside the player to represent the ball.

Now, you can let your Smartboard be the artist for you. Simply, click on the picture frame icon on the left side of the screen. You will see a search bar appear above several folders.

Type in whatever image you would like to find. I typed in “soccer”

As you can see, there are seven folders that contain soccer images and altogether there are 22 soccer pictures in the gallery. All you need to do now is select the image you want and drag it into the white space of the page.

You can then click and drag the small grey circle in the bottom right corner to expand the image or to make it smaller.

There are a lot more things you can do with the images such as grouping them together, sending an image to the back so it can hide behind other images, and simple animations. The best way to learn what you can do with the Smartboard is to just give yourself some time to experiment with all of the functions. You can also find some Smartboard lessons and tips online that you can use as a starting point to creating your own Smartboard files and projects.

I hope you have found today’s tutorial useful. You may also want to check the Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive, it is updated every week with a brand new tip, lesson, or idea that you can use in the classroom.

Teachers helping teachers is what this series is all about. 

What an Angry Father Taught His Daughter (Jim Richards Breaks it Down)

Did you hear the story about the father who was upset with a Facebook update that his daughter posted?

It was basically just a complaint about the amount of chores she has to do.

Her dad responded to her Facebook message by filming himself shooting her laptop computer with a pistol.

I really like what Jim Richards had to say about it on his radio show. You can hear it with the player below.

“So let me get this straight. Everyone thinks this dad is a hero. I don’t get it at all. This jerk might have his panties in a knot, so decides to take the laptop out to the backyard and shoot his teenage daughter’s computer, videotaping the event, in the video verbally berates his adolescent daughter, posts it on the Internet for the entire world to see.

I point out his profound lack of parenting . . . Some people think I’m an idiot for thinking that this was stupid.

I think this girl is probably guilty of being 15 years of age. I’m not saying that being a good father means that you’re never a jerk, but where did she learn to be petty, ungrateful, self-martyring, and an attention-seeking little twit?

Probably if you have a kid that acts like a little spaz, you’re probably are a parent that might be a massive spaz.

So what did she actually learn?

She learnt that . . .

  • you act mature and destroy personal property to get even with somebody
  • belittle a beloved one for the entire world to see
  • misuse firearms in an angry moment
  • disrespect always should be met with more disrespect
  • retaliate is the only way to deal with something
  • that adults don’t take the high road
  • and you betray the trust of your young child
That’s the only thing that this daughter learnt. 
I’m Jim Richards.”
– from the Jim Richards’ Showgram on Newstalk 1010 CFRB
If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

DOPEfm’s Women in Hip-Hop Roundtable Concludes

Chase: “All right, DOPEfm, we are celebrating International Women’s Day. This is Chase March on the microphone, Gamma Krush is hiding in the shadows, and Daddy J is on the boards.

We are lucky enough to have some lovely ladies in our studio today. We have Our Sis Sam representing the behind the scenes hip-hop promotion. And representing the microphone, we’ve got Lady A.S.G., Kool Krys, and we’ve got Nilla. Really nice to have you on the program.

We’ve covered a lot of topics so far. If you missed any of it, you can download the entire roundtable discussion or stream it with the player below, or go back to the beginning and read the transcript from the very start.
International Women’s Day is March 8th every year and this is our special tribute to recognize the achievements of women within hip-hop music and culture. Let’s talk about Judith Butler. She’s a feminist theorist and author and she looks at how we talk, act, and dress. She has a theory called performativity, basically it means that we agree to certain gender roles and everything we do is performing.
So for me. what it means to be a man is agreed upon most of us who carry out this fiction of manhood, which sets up an artificial binary between the genders. Hip-hop reinforces this binary with its over the top imagery. It’s a vicious cycle that we probably need to break, or at least call attention to so that men can stop painting the feminine as something undesirable and thus break the artificial binary between the genders. That’s the gist of an article I wrote entitled ‘Redefining What It Means to be a Man in Hip-Hop.’ I wanted to see your take on that now that we have some females representing hip-hop here.”
Kool Krys: “I’m also a scholar, who studied sociology in university. I definitely believe in a stereotype threat, which means when you are fixed into a category, you feel a certain pressure to act the way that you think people perceive you. So maybe there is something to be said about how that translates to being a women in hip-hop, even if you don’t like to be called a femcee, you still might take on a role where you want to emphasize your sexual appeal or stereotypical feminine approaches, whether it’s becoming a feminist on the mic or hyper-sexual. There are so many different ways we can go. That stereotype threat does loom over female performers in general.”
Nilla: “Most definitely, but regardless of my music or my expression, every day I dress different. I dress according to how I feel. So today I was feeling like wearing my hat, hoodie, and kicks. And tomorrow I might put some heels on, slick my hair back, and wear a long, nice jacket. I think women have more of an ability to challenge those perceptions, but more so, express yourself on a daily. Some days I do want to wear a skirt and some days I don’t.”
Kool Krys: “I recently did a song called ‘Show Stopper’ and I really wanted to encompass all the different forms women take on, whether it is the powerful office women, a dancer, a rapper, or a videographer. I collected a beautiful group of women, all from different backgrounds, sizes, and ages. I’ve never seen so many outfit changes in one day, but we really encompassed the beauty. At the end of the shoot, it was so amazing to see all these different girls grinding in so many different ways but coming together. It was one of the best things I ever experienced.”
Chase: “That’s awesome. I’m a teacher and a DJ and a rappers and sometimes when I tell the kids that, they’re like, ‘Woah, you don’t dress like a rapper.’ I think it’s important for teachers to model a professional level of dress so I regularly wear a tie to work.”
Nilla: “I can speak to that, ‘You don’t look like a rapper.’ I get that a lot because I show up looking like me and people don’t think I do that. For example, my given name is Galyn Esmé and people can’t remember that or say it properly so people call me G and they say, ‘Yo, what up G? You rap? What are you a rapper?’ and when I say I am, they’re like, ‘What?’”
Lady A.S.G: “Bust a freestyle.”
Nilla: “Yeah, ‘Kick a free. Kick a free, and it goes on from there. I think it’s important to challenge people’s perceptions on that. I remember rocking open mics and going in sweater vests and knee-high socks and getting up there and they think I’m going to be singing Kumbayah and I drop 16 bars on them and they don’t know what to do. I like that though. That’s like my ace in my pocket and I use it to my advantage. I can’t speak for any of the other ladies here. I just think no matter what your job is, whether you are a powerful business suit-wearer, to challenge people’s perceptions. In today’s day you can be something different by day and something different by night, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t both of those things.”
Kool Krys: “That’s my life. I have to wear two different outfits all the time.”
Our Sis Sam: “Most women have to wear multiple hats no matter what.”
Chase: “I have about 17 different hats and I’m not talking about the physical hats because I have about 300 of those. I love hats.”
Nilla: “Me too.”
Lady A.S.G: “For me it’s shoes.”
Nilla: “See, Lady A.S.G. doesn’t consider herself very girly and yet she has this affinity for shoes.”
Lady A.S.G: “I just can’t afford them.”
Nilla: “Stereotypically they’d say that’s a women thing but men really flip it too. They have whole rooms dedicated to shows in boxes in pristine condition.”
Lady A.S.G: “I have to say one thing about women and shopping. I think it’s embedded in our DNA because our role as women through the ages was to nurture and gather so we gather all these things and we want to show it off. It’s a role that we cannot break but we must embrace and use it to work for us.”
Chase: “Has anyone seen the hip-hop documentary Beyond Beats and Rhymes?”
Lady A.S.G: “Yes.”
Chase: “I really love that film. It’s by Byron Hurt and there’s an amazing quote from Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. He say, “The greatest insult that a man can imagine for another man is to assume that he’s less than a man and to assign him the very derogatory terms that one usually associates with women. The insult is double. It’s both an assault on women but its also a reinforcement of a negative and malicious form of masculine identity.’ We hear these male voices all the time and that’s why we put together this female roundtable. I don’t know how we can fix the problem of masculine identity that paints the feminine as negative. So I want to talk about positives and what we can do here as DJs on DOPEfm and what you do as party promoters and MCs.”
Kool Krys: “Who’s been to Rock the Bells? One of the best things I ever heard on stage there, because there aren’t a lot of female MCs that get invited to perform there, there have been some but they can do much better there. Krs-One was talking about how his wife developed this mantra of L.A.D.Y which is ‘Love and develop yourself’ and he was really advocating for women to see themselves as performers and follow their dreams. I found that very empowering being that he is an educator and very respected amongst scholars and music lovers. I think men do have an influence in having such a positive message.”
Chase: “Speaking of Rock the Bells, we have Money Stax on later and she played Rock the Bells in Dallas with her group, Viscous Cycle. So there are some female artists opening for big name artists and at major venues, but they are very few and far between.
Murs was speaking about this very topic and he addressed why there weren’t more women at Rock The Bells. He said, ‘You can expect a woman to feel comfortable being in an art that is so degrading. It’s so misogynistic. It’s an awful music if you’re a woman and you have any sort of self-respect. You have to have a lot of self-respect, you have to be borderline obsessed with yourself to be an MC because it’s me. me. me. But if every song you ever heard growing up is ‘Bitches Ain’t Shit.’ it’s hard for that woman to grow up and want to take the stage and have the confidence. Everyone says they seem a little less confident, of course they do because you beat them over the head with how worthless they are and then say ‘Here’s a mic, you can try and do what we do.’”
Kool Krys: “Who headlined Rock the Bells last year?”
Chase March: “Lauryn Hill.”
Nilla: “And then she gave a tragic performance and everyone remembered it as a tragic performance instead of evaluating what had brought her to that level. In terms of changing it up a little bit, I work with young girls and young boys to empower them. Big up to Queen Cee, in Hamilton, doing her Be-You-tiful Girls Club and putting together When Sisters Get Together and totally pushing that idea of solidarity and oneness and unified fronts to gain a better understanding of self and identity and strength and confidence and self-esteem.
I’m also an artist educator so when I go into schools and communities I try to, in a non-cheesy way but in a relatable way, because they will spot that from a mile away, just to take note of who you are and to feel good about yourself. If I sit here and I pay attention to the degradation of women in hip-hop, I’m not going to be focusing on what my strengths are or what my gift to hip-hop is or to myself. If I take on all these negative attributes of hip-hop then I’m not going to switch anything, I’m not going to change the game. But if I walk in like I’m not paying attention to these factors and I’m just doing me in a positive way and I’m trying to give back and educate the community in a positive way, then I feel good. My humanitarianism is satisfied. I’m ensuring the future of women, the future of the youth and these communities have at least heard somebody tell them there’s a different way. That’s how I’m trying to affect change, through my lyrics and my teaching.”
Our Sis Sam: “Even for myself, running Steel Gold, a monthly hip-hop show here in Hamilton at the Casbah. I run a Facebook page as well and one of my rules is that any negative or derogatory content or postings or comments will be deleted. If you post a track that has negative derogatory content it will not be kept on the page. And even in the environment I try to hone in the Steel Gold scene. it’s conscious, it’s love, it’s peace, it’s the roots of hip-hop and everything that was ever good in hip-hop when it started and in embracing the elements of hip-hop. Both Nilla and I have participated in Be-You-tiful Girls Club with Queen cee and When Sisters Get Together and I tagged her when that whole Chris Brown and Rihanna thing had come up and we saw all those girls posted how Chris Brown could beat them anytime he wanted. This is why the work we do is so important.
It’s so essential that we keep doing this. Being the change that we want to see in the world and starting with addressing and putting a spotlight on things. When you see brothers using the words ‘bitch’ or ‘hoe’ and correcting them and asking them if they can use better terms or words to describe the type of person they are trying to describe. Or questioning youths and fully grown adults with the way they are thinking and conducting themselves, or creating positive actions and vibrations through ourselves. That’s where it’s all gonna start. It’s gonna start with us and when we create that vibration, hopefully it carries through in our societies and immediate ciphers
Chase: “Yeah, language is very powerful and I don’t think we actually dwell on that, or contemplate it, or reflect on it enough. I remember a long time ago when Queen Latifah came out with ‘U.N.I.T.Y.’ The first time I saw that on Much Music and the chorus didn’t blank out the word bitch, ‘Who you calling a bitch?’ I thought it was awesome and it would wake a lot of people up. But even now, I still hear that word so many times a day, but only through the music I listen to. With the company I keep, nobody is saying it, but I keep hearing it over my speakers and headphones. And you think, this is the message kids are getting, every day they are hearing this.”
Our Sis Sam: “I think one of the worst things that happened was when media accepted the term ‘bitch’ and would no longer ban it from TV shows and radios and it was accepted. And now they say it all the time. It’s just like, really?”
Chase: “I didn’t know they did that. I thought when they did that with the Queen Latifah song, I thought it was an exception to prove the point that she was saying.”
Nilla: “It was at that time because it was years later that they decriminalized the word.”
Our Sis Sam: “I think that was in the late 90s.”
Kool Krys: “It comes down to education. You can’t shield children from what’s out there. You just have to teach them what self-respect is, and if they respect themselves, it’s much easier for them to respect the women in their lives. So I’m not just saying that it has to be men that respect women, it has to be women that respect women.”
Lady A.S.G: “We have to respect ourselves first and foremost because if we show no respect for ourselves, how do we show respect for others?”
Nilla: “I take that into huge consideration with my artistry and what I’m putting out there because I believe in what Lauryn Hill says, ‘What you through out comes back to you, Star. Karma, karma. karma come back to you hard.’ I have a line too, ‘I want boys to become men and girls to feel strength from within and I want them both to recognize we’re in the same game to win.’
It goes back to gender issues, like you said before. ‘You throw like a girl.’ Well that girl threw pretty far. It is just about education like Krys is saying. We need to practise what we preach and be true to ourselves like Lady A.S.G is saying right here. That’s the change. That’s the root. You gotta be the change you want to see.
If this is what we all believe in and we are being true to ourselves, that’s going to come out in all aspects of our art and our business and how we conduct ourselves in our homes, on the stage, and in the street, on the streets, ya know?”
Chase: “You know what’s hilarious? We keep talking about education and I’m a teacher. I’m an elementary school teacher and here’s a funny story. I’m supply teaching right now so I’m in different classrooms every day and I will say ‘Girls and Boys’ instead of ‘Boys and Girls’ and sometimes saying that in a Grade 1 classroom, the boys will stand up and say, ‘No, it’s boys and girls.’ They’ve never heard someone put ladies first before. And I’ll say, ‘We can put girls first sometimes, why does it always have to be boys first?”
Nilla; “Chivalry ain’t dead.”
Kool Krys: “That’s interesting.”
Chase: “Some classes I do that for don’t get it and they’ll argue with me about it. There is so much to be conscious of with what words we use.”
Lady A.S.G: “That’s the thing with the English language, one word can have so many meanings.”
Our Sis Sam: “I think in any language, right? That’s why when people ask me what my ethnic group is. I’ve lived in five different countries, so I always say, ‘I’m a child of the world’ or what’s your religion, ‘I am’ and I don’t finish it. Don’t use any labels to define you, just be.
And if everybody comes to that one state of being and acceptance of whatever it is that you are claiming or not claiming or whatever you are, you’re not going run into those dilemmas. It’s acceptance of self, and through that, acceptance of one another regardless of what it is.
Chase: “Hear that silence. That’s because that’s the closing thought right there. That’s brilliant. This has been amazing. It’s been so awesome having you in the studio today for DOPEfm’s International Women’s Day Roundtable Discussion. So let’s just go through the panel right now with any last thoughts.
Kool Krys: “How ya doing ladies? I just have one last thought. The power in your head exceeds all limits. That’s one of my lines, so keep doing your thing girls, whether it’s rapping or just being yourself.”
Lady A.S.G: “My closing thought, is to give a big shout out and warm hug to all you lovely ladies out there, Keep doing your thing and believe in yourself because I believe in you.”
Nilla: “In closing, I’d like to say to all the men and all the women, stay true to yourself. Much respect to everyone who is on a higher level of understanding and compassion and pressing forward, willing to change the game. Stay courageous and stay brave. Peace!”
Chase: ‘That’s amazing. Thanks a lot everyone for being part of this. Daddy J has been behind the boards, running the show all night long. Gamma Krush is in the studio here, he’s going to be spinning for you in a second. This is Chase March on the microphone.
This is historic. This has been DOPEfm’s coverage for International Women’s Day. It’s an annual event where we spend all seven hours of our programming to the Women in Hip-Hop. Thanks for tuning in, we’re only getting started here and thanks to all the panelists. This has been amazing.” 

Women in Hip-Hop Roundtable Part 3

Chase: “You are listening to DOPEfm’s annual International Women’s Day special. It’s actually the 101st anniversary of this day, so that is something right there.

Download the podcast for free or stream it with the player below. You can go back and read the transcript from the start or just pick it up here. Either way, enjoy and let us know what you think of the program.

We try to celebrate women each and every week with what we do here at DOPEfm but we are especially proud to bring this special to you every year, by dedicating our entire overnight to the Women in Hip-Hop. That is what we are doing on this panel.”

Gamma Krush: “It’s not really so much that we celebrate women, we just celebrate hip-hop and women and Polish people and Scottish people. All sorts of races, represented.”

Chase: “For sure, one of the things I like about hip-hop is that it’s so inclusive. Anyone who has the talent and desire can do something in hip-hop whether it’s in front of the mic, behind the boards, on the turntable, promoting shows. It doesn’t matter what colour you are, what gender you are, how old you are. None of that matters, and that’s one of the things I love about hip-hop and what’s always drawn me to it.”

Nilla: “It’s definitely universal. It’s the only universal language. You might rap in a different language and I might not know that language but you and I both recognize that beat and that beat is our heartbeat. I’m a gypsy and I run this country left to right, east to west, and hip-hop is truly my home, so wherever I go, that’s where I feel at home, in hip-hop communities. Whether or not people want to respect you from wherever you come from. I’d like to say that it really is that inclusive, but I think there are people out there who want to make it really exclusive and particular to one kind of people or one way of people and I think we should just broaden the scope.”

Chase: “Let’s get heavy for a moment.”

Nilla: “We haven’t been heavy yet?”

Kool Krys: “That was just a warm-up. Bring it!”

Chase: “I wanted to discuss the violent nature of hip-hop and whether or not that keeps women away from creating this music. I also want to address domestic violence and how we can get that message out to the youth that this stuff happens and that it’s not okay and maybe even tie that into what’s going on with Chris Brown and Rihanna right now. I think it’s a topic that we should address, the fact that maybe they are getting back together, the fact that they were on the same Grammy stage, the fact that they are collaborating on new songs together. I know domestic violence is crazy but maybe that is something we can touch on here.”

Our Sis Sam: “I think one of the most disturbing things about the whole Chris Brown / Rihanna thing is that I saw a whole bunch of posts that young girls had been making saying, ‘Chris Brown can beat me anytime he likes,’ and ‘I’ll be your punching bag.’ I was absolutely mortified and disgusted. These are young girls and I think about how far we’ve come and you far we’ve fought and think ‘You’re really going to take us back there, really?’ What are you learning in this modern day education system? What are you learning? Where is your motivation and self-esteem? What is happening in your family unit and in your immediate cipher that you have lost your self-esteem, self-worth, and self-respect that you would allow yourself to be treated like that? It made me sick.”

Lady A.S.G: “One thing that you brought up is how society is right now. We are brought up to look at women a certain way, to look at men a certain way. We have our roles. I get it all the time, stuff like, ‘You belong in the kitchen.’ I hate that. I can’t stand that. I get things like, ‘You should be cleaning and making dinner for me. What the hell are you doing on stage?’ Really, you just went there? So I just try and go do my thing and prove them wrong. Can you rock the mic like I can, you know what I mean?

You don’t have to follow what everyone else does, what society tells you to, just because you are taught in school a different way, or what you see on TV. Nowadays both parents are working so usually they are sitting themselves in front of the TV or the babysitter doesn’t care enough to read books with them or take them outside and then they learn these ways, like how to treat women in a very disrespectful manner because they are emulating what they experience in their live. And unfortunately, part of their lives is TV shows like Family Guy, or The Simpsons, or-”

Nilla: “Jersey Shore.”

Kool Krys: “That’s an abomination!”

Our Sis Sam: “This is exactly why I haven’t had a TV in my house for ten years.”

Nilla: “Word, straight up, same here sis.

Back to the Chris Brown / Rihanna thing. I was reflecting on this recently with my teammates and was thinking. ‘Well, if they’re taking the high road and they are trying to show that people can overcome, they can grow, they can forgive, they can go into their anger management.”

Lady A.S.G: “Which is important.”

Nilla: “Which is very important that they can do this. Now obviously their PR teams are showing them united on that front but they’re not doing the background work, so all I’m seeing is on a real level the industry is saying, ‘It’s all right that he beat the crap out of her and everyone saw those pictures’ and three years later they go and do tracks together and they might get back together. I worry for Rihanna, same way. This girl might have lost herself, maybe we need to go hang out with her, you know, show her a warmer way. Unhealthy love is unhealthy love.”

Our Sis Sam: “And as far as domestic violence in hip-hop, I had a sister when I was in high school who was in an abusive relationship and it was really close to home and one track that had just come out around that time was by Eve.”

Gamma Krush: “Love is Blind. That’s the chorus at least.”

Our Sis Sam: “She had a really great video with that track as well. It was so important for me to have that song in my life at that time, and I think it’s really important that hip-hop touches on topics that are prevalent in our lives. Clearly, it’s an issue that young girls are still feeling that they deserve to be victimized like that. It’s important that tracks like that are being made and it’s important that MCs are using their power to address issues like that rather than talking about superficial things are are addressing real and relevant to their listeners

Kool Krys: “Eternia, our star MC from Canada, much respect to Eternia. She speaks to some really emotional issues that women and men can relate to. I really respect her for that because it must be really difficult to be that self-revealing on many levels, but she’s really able to engage people who’ve experienced similar situations.”

Nilla: “What’s that last track she did where she’s talking about her abortions.”

Kool Krys: “’To the Future’”

Nilla: “That track, huge.”

Kool Krys: “That takes a lot of courage to do a song like that. I think that if other female MCs have a story like that within them, they should feel compelled to share it because it really speaks volumes to other people.”

Nilla: “That’s the hard part too, exposing yourself and being open, but that’s the thing that also binds us. I know when I did my Night Phoenix E.P. it was all about a break-up. You basically see my whole break up, front to back. I definitely put him on blast. It made me feel better. Through me being so open and so raw with it, I had a lot of people come back to me and be like, ‘Yo, you really helped me though a time,’ which I didn’t expect.

And hearing Eternia’s track, that took serious courage, and she did it in a powerful way, and hopefully, maybe, Rihanna and Chris Brown can do a track like that.”

Kool Krys: “That would be interesting. That would be healthy”

Nilla: “What if they came together and used their star power and created a group or a movement for women who are abused or people in abusive relationships and then dealing with the men who are abusive or even women who are abusive, because it’s not just men who are beating women, it’s women beating men as well. Maybe if they draw light to that and it’s not just everything is happy butterflies and rainbows now, through society’s eyes, maybe if they use that power and they come full-circle on it, then I’d probably sleep better at night.”

Chase: “We need to hear that. We need to hear that just as much as wee need to hear Jay-Z cleaning up his language. Unfortunately, I don’t think either of those things are going to happen.

Chris Brown does not seem repentant to me at all, tweeting ‘To all my haters, I got a f*cking Grammy.’ He tweeted something like that instead of ‘You know what, I’m sorry that I let you guys down. Thanks for the Grammy.’ He could have said something like that and humbled himself a bit. They are both pop artists and I’m not sure pop radio is going to want to hear that heavy of a track.”

Nilla: “Rihanna is not new with it though. Tina Turner was severely beaten her whole career and she’s still representative of a very dominant force within her genre and her industry.”

Chase: “Let’s go back to the very beginning of hip-hop for a second. We need to remember that hip-hop didn’t start as a recorded music business and that there were some women pioneers and party promoters in those early days of hip-hop.”

Our Sis Sam: “I’ve watched a lot of old school hip-hop documentaries and I remember one of the early breakers or scratch deejays said, ‘Everyone was giving me this rep of putting on all these shows and killing these parties but the one who really made it all happen was my sister. She was the one who was behind the scenes, throwing the parties, and organizing everything.’

Like I was saying before, whether we are in the front lines or behind the scenes, we tend to be the brains behind a lot of things or giving some direction or being the support and the man-power behind things and it’s still true today. We are coming more in to the front line in any aspect of society and women have always played a critical role whether they’ve gotten their shine on that or not. It’s a matter of recognizing everybody’s strengths that we’re involved in making any sort of evolution happen in any sort of group or subculture.”

Nilla: “But the winners always write the history.”

Lady A.S.G: “It’s one-sided again.”

Kool Krys: “Her story.”

Chase: “You’re listening to DOPEfm’s International Women’s Day Roundtable discussion. Daddy J is on the boards, Gamma Krush is in the studio, this is Chase March, and we have a lot of lovely ladies in the house tonight. And yes, we’ll be getting back to the music soon. Gamma Krush has some dope mixsets coming up, but we still have a few things to discuss. Come back tomorrow to read the rest of this transcript, and don’t forget to download the podcast or stream it with the player below. Thanks for tuning in. Let us know what you think about the program.”

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DOPEfm’s Women in Hip-Hop Roundtable Discussion Part 2

Welcome back to DOPEfm’s Women in Hip-Hop special roundtable discussion. You can download this podcast for free, stream it with the player below, read it from the very start, or just pick up right where we left off last time. . .

Nilla: “It’s just that straight disrespect. Do you respect your mom? Do you respect your sisters? Do your respect your girlfriend or your wife? Do respect women who are in your world? And if you don’t, then that is exactly how you are going to approach any women in any industry, whether you are the CEO of a company or whether you’re working at a radio station, no matter what, regardless of the hip-hop industry. I just think how you approach women is how you’re going to approach women in hip-hop.”

Chase: “I don’t know if I agree with that. I think there are a lot of MCs who treat their ladies nice but get on the mic and start saying ‘bitches ain’t shit’ and all that kind of stuff because there is an audience for it. I think we need to talk about that audience. I mean, as much as I don’t listen to that kind of stuff. Okay, I listen to some of it, but most of the stuff I listen to is conscious.

I listen to a lot of conscious hip-hop, a lot of underground stuff, I don’t listen to commercial rap, but even so, I hear derogatory terms all the time, like ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes’ and stuff like that. And then you hear defense of that from some rappers who say, ‘You know what? There are some bitches and hoes out there and I’m just keeping it real’ but that can’t be an excuse at all. We usually only get that one side, so how come you aren’t talking about the queens and the beautiful women. We don’t have that other side of the story, I find.”

Nilla: “Not in the mainstream.”
Our Sis Sam: “It starts with the individual. It really starts with your own mind. It starts from the seed of the thought and it goes to the vibration of the words that you speak. You really have to understand the power that has and the effect it has on society. And I think you really need to correct yourself when you’re standing in front of the mirror. And first of all, if the only vocabulary you have is ‘bitch’ and ‘hoe’ and you’re a MC, then you need to go read a book because there are plenty of other words you can use to describe the type of individual that you are trying to portray without using such a limited and ignorant word. You really have to be conscious of what you think and what you say, and if you do treat the women in your life like queens but don’t do so on the mic, you’re a hypocrite. You stand for something or you fall for anything. I don’t know what to believe. I’m not going to take your words for nothing. And all you are as an MC, you’re given me your words and you want me to take that as bond, it’s not happening.”
Kool Krys: “I agree. You’re an MC on stage and you’re an MC off stage, so even as a performer, you can’t be someone else when you get off the stage, especially when your lyrics are conscious and genuine, it really comes off as insincere and fake. I think as an artist, you do have a choice, whether you are going to do the mainstream thing and your objective it to be wiling out famous, that’s one way. The other way you can go is be conscious and true to yourself and say, ‘I just want to make an impact on small audiences that grow. I think there are those black and white channels that you have to decide on as an artist, and I think the ones that decide to be famous, look at Nicki Minaj. What kind of role model is the most successful female artist for every other artist right now? Look at what she’s been putting out. It’s derogatory. It’s disappointing.”
Our Sis Sam: “She’s setting us back like thirty years.”
Kool Krys: “She keeps saying, ‘I’m setting the path for you. You girls should be thanking me.’ That’s her message to all the female MCs. Yeah, I’m gonna thank you that I have to take my clothes off if I’m going to be successful. I’m not down with that. That’s not what I represent at all, and I’m sure the girls here can agree with me.”
Nilla: “I’ll thank her for being ignorant though. I’ll thank her for not teaching me anything. But that’s because I like the more conscious hip-hop. Now, I came up listening to NWA, 2pac and Biggie, but 2Pac started getting more conscious and that fed in to my vibe. I eventually got into Talib Kweli who did tracks like ‘For Women’ and Common Sense who are flipping the switch, ya know?
I ran in to some girls this week and they were writing raps and they were calling themselves ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes’ and I had to rewind the track and be like, ‘Why are you calling yourself that?’ and she was like, ‘Well, I’m a bad bitch.’ Okay, but why is that something you are attaining to be. It’s because it’s something we’re projecting. You want to be a bad bitch who doesn’t look at the price tag and all these unrealistic things. I can only speak for myself, but I rap about what I know so when I see these young girls, it’s hard for me.
The guys even back this way of thinking up like, ‘Being a bad bitch is a good thing.’ But why don’t you find a different word, exactly like Sam was talking about. Why don’t you broaden your horizon? Go read a book. That’s not respectful. It maybe okay on the streets in your frame of reference but you have to be bold and courageous to flip the switch and try something else. It’s like swearing in tracks, you can find another word with just as many syllables. Don’t use it a crutch. Change the game because we are not fast-forwarding anything, we’re rewinding, right?
I don’t care about your wardrobe. I don’t care how many wigs you wear. What are you showing me? You want me to jump on your camp, I can’t do it.”
Our Sis Sam: “I think it comes down to lack of self identity and just trying to make it and not being sure how they want to make it just knowing that they want to make it at all costs. That’s not inspirational.”
Nilla: “And so they will sexualize themselves and they will pay attention and show up when guys say, ‘Yeah I’ll put you on this bill if you come home with me tonight.’ I’d rather not play that bill, that’s just me.”
Chase: “The Nicki Minaj thing though, it’s almost like she’s a character. I can almost see a little bit of the appeal because she is just so over the top, like Lady Gaga, who once again I don’t like but-”
Nilla: “You gotta respect her hustle, right?”
Chase: “You have to a little bit, and the fact that Minaj is so interchangeable and you don’t even know what she looks like because she dresses herself up like a Barbie doll and looks different every time you see her. It’s a gimmick. And there have been a lot of trends in hip-hop where artists have been able to establish themselves through gimmick, such as Das Efx. So there is something to be said about gimmicks.
The point you were just making too, Nilla, that people don’t censor themselves. I think that is something we should do. I’m not for censorship, I’m not for telling somebody that they can’t say what they want to say, especially in this music because there are so many different ways you can go, and so many different factions of hip-hop. But at the same time. I think we should stop and think before we use the n-word and before we say bitch. I’m not going to say that word anymore. I might have said it ten years ago.”
Nilla: “It’s been out of my vocab for a long time just out of respect. You won’t hear any derogatory slang come out of my mouth for anybody no matter what culture you are what land you walk, nothing, but that’s just me.”
Chase: “Sometimes it comes out inadvertently like the Lin-sanity that’s been going on. Somebody put ‘a chink in the armor’ in a headline for him and I think that was a phrase that wasn’t meant to have any racial stereotypes, so sometimes it comes out like even in a freestyle and that doesn’t necessarily negate all the good work you are doing by modeling the respect that you do.”
Nilla: “There’s a difference, right? People say, ‘I’m expressing how I feel. Those are the words I want to use’ and you’re right, we can’t take their language away from them. And I’m not going to berate you and say, ‘Use different words and educate yourself.’ I can’t make you into something that you’re not. I can only choose as a listener, as a fan, as a fellow artist too that I’m not inline with what you represent so I can’t really support that. I would never want someone to come to me and call me all sorts of names and whatnot. That’s the ‘treat somebody the way you want to be treated’ rule of thumb in life.”
Chase: “We’ve been talking about a lot of things today on this panel. One thing I did want to touch on was Jay-Z and Beyonce. They recently had a daughter and a story came out that Jay-Z was going to stop using derogatory terms for women in his music. I was like, ‘Wow, this is so awesome!’ and I know that becoming a parent changes you, it does make you grow up, but that story turned out to be a hoax. I so wanted it to be true. I was disappointed. I don’t know, how do you feel about it?”
Nilla: “Majorly disappointed. Your words are powerful, your voice is powerful, and he’s actually someone a lot of people follow. If he wears his hat a certain way, they are all going to wear their hat that way, if walks a certain way, they are all going to walk that way. They want to emulate Jay-Z and he had to the power to actually do something about that. I thought it was a little cliché, I thought it was a little convenient, ‘Oh you have a daughter and now you’re not going to say ‘bitch’ anymore.’”
Our Sis Sam: “But whatever it takes to make that enlightenment happen.”
Nilla: “And then when we found out it was a hoax, I was like, ‘Oh great, awesome.’”
Lady A.S.G: “So then your daughter will grow up to find out the words that you use in your music.”
Nilla: “She will find out that you have no respect for her or her mom.”
Lady A.S.G: “That he is calling every women that he knows a ‘slut’ or a ‘bitch’ or whatever these days that they want to call us. I mean, we’re people too. We have feelings too, come on. Just because we have boobs instead of a wiener doesn’t mean that we can’t get things done and get it done as good as anyone else or even better.”
Nilla: “I love this Invincible line. She says, ‘I want to be one of the best period, not just one of the best with two breasts and a period.”
Lasy A.S.G: “That’s a dope line. I agree.”
Chase: “I’m a teacher and I hear young boys often say that girls can’t do all of the things that they can do. And then I’ll come out and say, ‘I’m a runner’ and they know I’m fast, and I’ll say, ‘Every race I go into, I get beat by a girl,” and it’s true. I’m not the fastest dude in the world but I love to run and go in road races and invariably, there is a girl that beats me every single time.
I also bring up the terms actor and actress when teaching drama. If we are all acting and the suffix ‘or’ means ‘one who,’ which it does, then we should get rid of the term actress like we should get rid of the term femcee. I hate that word.”
Lady A.S.G: “Me too. That’s the grossest word that someone ever came up with, in my opinion.”
Nilla: “It’s just showing that you think a true MC is a guy, and that again is just frame of reference. It’s mad frustrating.”
Lasy A.S.G: “We don’t need labels. The labels are what hold us back, but despite those labels and whatever they want to put on us, it doesn’t matter, we’re gonna beat through it anyway. Look how far we’ve come. In 1950 women weren’t even allowed to vote. In 2012, we’re out there protesting-”
Our Sis Sam: “And we had a female running for president.”
Lady A.S.G: “Exactly, this goes from Europe to Asia to North America. It doesn’t matter where you are. I see a lot of pictures up on the Internet now with everything that it going on in Egypt with the war and I see a lot more females than I’ve ever seen before. Pictures of females raising their fists, they’ve got some weapons there too, just like the guys, they’re fighting for their freedom and that’s what we do as MCs, we’re fighting for our voice too as females. We can do anything and maybe even do it better.”
Chase: “I agree. I hate that it’s 2012 and we have to talk about this. Why are women still seen as second-class citizens, especially in rap music? It makes no sense to me whatsoever.”
Nilla: “It makes people comfortable. You’re only comfortable if you can push someone down and know that you’re above them, even if it’s just in your own head.”
Our Sis Sam: “We’ve been living in patriarchal society for how many years, millennia?”
Nilla: “Exactly. North America just runs that way.”
Our Sis Sam: “Yeah, from religion, which is the original form in which you are brainwashed as to your values and what your belief system should be and the standards of life, down to sociological, and even educationally. And the opportunities that are offered to you in the corporate world. You get paid less to do the same job as a man. In every single level of society, we are still being ruled by this patriarchal mindset. And until there is a flush through generations where women are being respected in the household and those values of respect and equality of women are being taught to the seeds and every generation that comes up, that is still maintained.
Until people realize the power of a woman and how we are the creators and nurturers of society, and how we undertake tasks and how we contribute to things, we may not do things ourselves but we are the hands behind the scenes making things happen and being supportive and comforting. We are the ones making the moves and giving the knowledge to the men who can’t figure things out, if that is the scenario, if not doing it ourselves.
Until that shift happens in our society, and it starts in the home, it starts with the individual. that reflection will not be made down the line into hip-hop.”
Nilla: “And they say too, that if you educate a girl within a village, it benefits the entire village because she’ll pass on that knowledge and she can do more with her knowledge than educating a little boy, and I’m not saying don’t educate the little boy. It’s proven that we are the nurturers and that we lift everybody up and that we carry on tradition. We are the neck if they are the head. Somebody’s got to hold you up.”
Kool Krys: “With that said, I really want to bring up something that is very much parallel to the hip-hop and pop music industry, which is the porn industry. When you look at the rise of the Internet and how easy it is so access porn for young guys. I saw a CBC special on this last week and it blew my mind. It has completely ruined their ability to have healthy relationships with women and their mothers and see women as equals because they are really portrayed in a very hyper-sexualized manner and I think that hip-hop does not do anything to aid that on a mainstream level.
But we have to not just talk about the mainstream. There are people in the communities that are influencing young boys and girls and there is a lot of great things that female and male Canadian hip-hop artists are doing. So I think we really need to focus on what women are doing and not how people think women are acting. I think as MCs and as promoters, we need to bring that community together as much as possible, despite all of the things that are against women in general, across the stage, across the workplace, across every environment. It’s not just hip-hop. It’s everything. It’s our mindset as a culture.”
Nilla: “I think girls, just in general, need to be cooler with each other. I mean girls will fight each other faster than they’ll fight anyone else. So I mean we’re not even standing united
Lady A.S.G: “I have to be honest. I have way more guy friends that I have girl friends. It’s not because I’m a tomboy. I usually have a hard time getting along with most girls. I don’t get my hair done or do the whole makeup thing every day. There’s nothing wrong with that. It just ain’t my thing. Just being a female, people expect you to always look a certain way, and act a certain way, and talk a certain way, and that’s one of the reasons I do hip-hop, I don’t want to be that way and that is how I tell people I don’t want to do it. I am me, hear me roar.”
Nilla: “But they think it’s an asset. People have told me, ‘Why don’t you dress up? Why aren’t you wearing heels or scandalous clothing?’ Well, I’m not comfortable in that. ‘Well, that’s an asset that you have. That’s how you’re going to get more fans. It’s a dude party at every hip-hop show’ but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to go an appeal to your porn senses and physically appeal to your eyes before your ears are inline with what we’re are doing.”

Our Sis Sam: “I think the unity amongst our sisters is really important. We’re quick to tear down Nicki Minaj or anyone that is portraying women in a negative light that we don’t agree with. I think a better approach would be to say, ‘Clearly our sister is a little lost and she needs some sort of direction and be assured of who she is as a woman.’ And who better to guide her and nurture her to that than her fellow sisters. Rather than tear each other down, we should be more supportive and help each other and maybe share our knowledge because we see something that maybe they don’t see yet. And we have to have faith that maybe they will see the light one day.”

Download this podcast for free and come back tomorrow for Part 3 of the transcript.

Read Part 3

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DOPEfm’s Women in Hip-Hop Roundtable

Chase: “All right everybody, Chase March here for DOPEfm. Daddy J is on the boards, Gamma Krush is in the studio, along with a nice panel here, we are celebrating International Women’s Day DOPEfm style.

You can listen to this show with the player below, download the podcast for free,or just continue reading.

Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day with a roundtable discussion group and on the panel today we have Nilla, who is a talented MC. We have Kool Krys, once again, a wicked MC. We have Lady A.S.G., another dope MC, and we have Our Sis Sam, a hip-hop promoter. Welcome to the program everybody.”

Nilla: “Respect, thanks for having us.”
Chase: “We are dedicating our entire overnight programming today to celebrate women in hip-hop. You can listen to the show with the player below, download the podcast for free, or continue reading this transcript. We wanted to bring a panel together to discuss some of the issues involved in rap music and in particular women’s studies issues and see what we can do along that topic today. First question, does anybody on the panel identify themselves as a feminist?”
Our Sis Sam: “I love men, but I’d like to say I am a little bit of a feminist. I’d have to say so.”
Nilla: “I think it’s cool. You don’t have to hate men to be proud of being a woman and that doesn’t necessarily make you a feminist, ya know?”
Kool Krys: “I agree with Nilla. You need to stand for yourself.”
Lady A.S.G: “I don’t think you have to be feminist to believe in women and to have power in yourself. You just need knowledge of self. That’s what it’s about. Definitely.”
Our Sis Sam: “I think coming from an Eastern background though I’ve had to take a stronger stance in claiming that a little more to break ground in that area in my culture.”
Chase: “There is a little bit of a stigma attached to feminism that people don’t want to wear. I’m almost considering myself a feminist these days from what I’ve been doing. I mean, we think we’ve come a long way but especially in rap music but it’s male dominated for some reason. And I know we have some very talented artists here who we spin all the time and I love you ladies. It’s really cool to have you on the program.”
Nilla: “We love you too, Chase.”
Kool Krys: “Woo, Chase. Feminist!”
Chase; “Thanks. I wanted to bring this quote to you. It’s from Murs, another one of my favourite MCs, and he says, “Hip-hop is not a positive environment for a young women. I’d want my daughter fifty miles away from this place, honestly. His quote continues, but I want us to respond to it up to that point. So what do you think about having young girls exposed to rap music?”
Lady A.S.G: “You see, rap is a very broad genre. I guess you see it much more in what people consider the mainstream to be very negative towards women. In the underground, I mean, we’ve got three lady MCs in the house, so what more can I say?”
Nilla: “We have three MCs in the house. ‘A dope MC is a dope MC.’ Krs-One, ya know?”
Chase: “Yes, I definitely agree. But at the same time, I find that there are a lot of people that don’t want to listen to female rap. Case in point, there was a Sean Price video interview and he says, ‘I listen to no female rappers. None!’ The interviewer keep pressing him and he kept saying, ‘None!’ He finally said, ‘Well, MC Lyte. Lyte as a Rock, but that’s the only album.’
Lady A.S.G: “Yeah and only because his wife likes it, right? I saw that clip.”
Nilla: “I also believe it’s Sean Price who won’t do a track with Jean Grae either. I don’t know what it is. Hip-hop is supposed to be about each one – teach one, an inclusive community with everyone supporting one another. At the root of hip-hop, that’s how it started. It started in positivity and as soon as we start excluding people based on their gender we forget why we are all here and why we all vibe or music is good or not or whether or not you listen to someone. You don’t have to like the music but at least respect the art. So to say ‘I don’t listen to any female MCs’ that to me just says that you aren’t trying to grow. You’re not trying to broaden your own focus or your own frame of reference.”
Kool Krys: “Yeah, it’s straight up ignorant if you’re not even considering a music that could change you or inspire you. I think back to when cassette tapes were the way that we consumed music and I would buy a tape being a Wu-Tang 36 Chambers tape wouldn’t sound any different to me than an MC Lyte tape or a Salt ‘N Pepa tape or whatever it was, Paula Abdul at the time. 

You didn’t think of it as a woman. You thought of it as music that made you dance, music that made you feel something. And I think that’s the difference. We don’t experience music like we used to. We experience music in a very quick way on the Internet where we can decide just as fast as whether we like a picture or not, when we’re taking digital pictures, I don’t like this. This is a girl, I don’t like this. And depending on who’s in the room, you’re going to have a very different perspective on the music, I think.”
Chase: “I guess it’s just a product of the day and age we live in but that doesn’t change. Good music is good music. To me, it’s colourless and it’s genderless, but it’s not necessarily that way because I know as artists, you’ve probably had a lot of barriers to overcome being female.”
Nilla: “You have to work at least a thousand time harder. At least, just to get on the mic.”
Lady A.S.G: “Maybe two thousand.”
Nilla: “Just to get on the mic. I know from myself a lot of people will be like, ‘Oh you rap. Are you any good?’ and I’ll just say, ‘No’ because that will satisfy their answer and then I’ll go up on stage and do my thing and 90% of the time, those people come back and say, ‘Yo, we gotta do tracks together. Blah, blah, blah.’ But it’s like, ‘How you gonna ask somebody if their good?’ If I wasn’t, would I be dedicating my life to being on a mic and making music and expressing myself in this way?

I didn’t choose this. I didn’t wake up one day, saying, ‘I’m gonna be a rapper and I’m gonna make it really hard for myself. I’m gonna choose a really hard area to break in to.’ No, it’s just the course of my life that brought me to this point. and so I don’t focus on it too hard. I just do what I do and make my music proper. I just work hard. I think that’s the base of any MC, that’s what they’re trying to do, Work hard, gain some respect, but I don’t want any respect from someone who is going to judge me before I even jump up on stage.”

Chase: “You just heard Nilla right there. This is the DOPEfm roundtable discussion for International Women’s Day. We have a lot more ladies in the house including Kool Krys. Have you heard Shad’s ‘Keep Shining?’”
Kool Krys: “Yeah, it’s my favourite song by Shad. I love it!”
Chase: “It’s a great track. There are a couple lines in it that I’d like to focus on. I interviewed Eternia and I asked her about the lack of female MCs and she said, ‘There isn’t any.’”
Kool Krys: “She’s right.”
Chase: “She said, “Everywhere I go, I run into them. And Shad touches on ‘We need more women in rap.’ Well, we have a lot of women in rap. But we don’t hear from them. I just want to read his lyric for anyone who might not be familiar with it.
“I’ve been know to talk about a women on a track or two.
I talk to women. I just can’t talk for women, that’s for you.
We need women for that, more women in rap . . .
but that’s still only half the view of the world,
there’s no girls rapping so we only hearing half the truth.
What we have to lose? Too much.
Half our youth aren’t represented, the better halves of dudes.”
Chase: “So my question is, half our youth seemingly aren’t being represented even though we have female MCs out there doing their thing. It’s because they are not being heard. So my question to the panel is how can we improve this and get the other half of the truth out there?”
Lady A.S.G: “By doing shows like these. DOPEfm, college radio stations, university radio stations, Internet radio stations, that’s where it’s at now for the grassroots music where we come from. People have to support that stuff.”
Kool Krys: “It comes down to promotion. I don’t think female MCs aren’t heard. I just don’t think they aren’t promoted in a way that is repetitive and recognizable the same way another MC in the city might be more well known. I think, like any artist, we need to work hard to promote ourselves, be visible, be recognized, be reviewed. And it’s an on-going, underground commitment as an artist when you don’t have a team behind you necessarily. You can’t expect anybody to make you famous. It’s not about being famous. It’s about influencing people with your music and you have to make a commitment to do that, and until you make a full commitment, you are not going to be heard. That’s the reality of it because there are so many people doing this. So how are you going to be different?”
Nilla: “I think we just need to make them comfortable. I work with a lot of youth and just this week alone I was on the East Coast running workshops in high schools and I find there are a lot of budding female MCs, and I don’t even like the term ‘female emcee’ because we don’t call guys ‘maleCs’ of ‘mencees.’ We should call them ‘mencees,’ that would just be hilarious. That would really flip it on them.
I think that the perception of women is not, I don’t want to get off on a tangent. Michie Mee was the first hip-hop artist signed out of Canada before Maestro yet everyone credits Maestro to that. I see a lot of poets. I see a lot of spoken word artists. Females seem more comfortable being poets but they don’t necessarily feel comfortable on a mic. Now the spoken word are has opened it up and they’ve embraced women. It makes me wonder, ‘Are you scared?’ Like, we’re not trying to take anything, ya know? I have my lane, guys have their lane. So why would you take the shine away or why wouldn’t you promote them?”
Lasy A.S.G: “Where’s the love?”
Nilla: “Or where’s the inclusive nature of it? I’m not sure.”
Chase: “I don’t know either because hip-hop to me embraces that. I’ve been in battles before where you tear the guy apart and then shake hands afterwards. As much as hip-hop is competitive, there is a camaraderie. Once again, I just don’t want to scapegoat rap and say rap is the problem here. There is a bigger problem with the lack of respect for women in general and we can’t blame it on rap music.”
Nilla: “I just thing people are more comfortable seeing women as country artists, they’re more comfortable seeing R&B singer as women, roles that are typically more feminine. They’re more used to that. You can still be feminine within hip-hop except that there is a certain divide in what women’s role is in hip-hop and I think that is emulated in hip-hop videos and through their lyrics and whatnot. So, the perception of what a woman is, and when you try to challenge that, as all four of us on this panel do, people don’t know how to recognize something that they’re not used to or that they fear or that they’ve been told is not respectable. I personally feel that if you have any women in your camp, you are that much stronger.”
Chase: “Three of the panel members here are visible. You’re in front of the mic, you’re on stage, and you’re doing it. Is it any different for you, Our Sis Sam, being behind the scenes and promoting it or do you find some barriers there as well.”
Our Sis Sam: “Definitely I found a lot of barriers just getting any credibility from venue owners, even from artists that I’m booking. My name is Our Sis Sam, Our Sister Sam, and you wouldn’t even believe that 90% of the time they’ll be like, ‘What up, bro?’ and they’ll just assume that I’m a guy just because I happen to be doing something in hip-hop. And the fact that I even need to clarify that, but I do clarify it because I want to clarify that, that I am indeed a woman and I am indeed making moves in hip-hop.
Dudes that you deal with at any level of the industry like automatically taking some kind of sexual approach to you at some point in time and trying to make some sort of moves and I automatically have to have my D up or put it words like ‘homie’ and ‘brubs’ to make it clear that this is not a sexual relationship whatsoever just because I am working in hip-hop. And even when it comes down to the money part because I am the one who pays the artists and make arrangements with the venue owners, sometimes it seems that you have to work a little harder to make sure that the playing field is fair or equivalent to what a man would have to deal with if he were doing the same thing. So definitely I’d say it works on all levels of the industry.
Hip-hop is in a younger phase of the evolution that we’ve taken over the last 50 years or how ever long we’ve been going through this gradual transition in our societies on a global scale. Hip-hop is a lot younger and the revolution that women are taking part in, we’re a little bit further behind. Again with the media tapping in to that and the way that they market hip-hop commercially and the mainstream is about T&A and objectifying women. Those of us who are trying to make something in hip-hop for the love of real, true hip-hop, we have to work that much harder to break down those walls and those barriers that are being built up faster than we can even blink or breathe.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first portion of the transcript of DOPEfm’s Roundtable discussion for International Women’s Day. You can listen to the entire roundtable with the player below or download it now for free. Please come back tomorrow for Part 2.

Read Part 2

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How To Convert Printing to Text on a Smartboard (or Teacher, I can’t read your writing)

Has a student every complained to you that they can’t read your handwriting on the board?

Here is a simple solution to that problem.

If you have a Smartboard in your classroom, chances are you are familiar with the Notebook software but you might not be aware of this special feature that will allow you to convert printing to text.

First print whatever you need to using the Smartboard marker.

Then if you touch the screen anywhere on the writing, you will see an arrow that will bring up a drop down menu.

From the drop down menu, click on “Recognize Handwriting”

Your printed words will be converted into text. You can then drag the corner of the blue box to make the text larger or smaller. This also works with cursive writing.
You need to write the entire sentence or word in one motion, however. If you stop halfway through or put down the board marker, the program may not recognize what you have written. 
Of course, if you have the time and a keyboard handy, it might be a good idea to just type your notes out to begin with. You do this by selecting the “A” with the red underline on it from the top of the screen.
I hope this tutorial has helped you. Come back next week for another Smartboard tip here on Teaching Tip Tuesday!

Onwards and Upwords (The Scrabble Duel with My Mom Continues)

My mother and I have an ongoing Scrabble feud. We can be a little competitive with each other when it comes to this crossword board game. She’s a tough opponent and the games we play are always challenging and fun.

Last week, we tried a variation of Scrabble that we had never played before. It’a called Scrabble: Upwords. This version of the game is quite different from the traditional board game. The letter tiles do not have point values printed on them. Each tile is worth the same amount. The game board doesn’t have any special spaces on it either. As such, it is quite a different game.

You are able to change a word that is on the board by stacking one or more letters on the top of it. You can only play letter tiles in one direction, either across or down, and you cannot stack tiles any more than five high.

The scoring is a little difficult to understand. For the first half of the game, we really couldn’t figure out how to get a high score. My mom had a hard time wrapping her head around the fact that you don’t get extra points for playing a “J” or an “X” for example.

Instead you score one point per each tile played. If your word exists on one level and has no stacked letters in it whatsoever, you double the score. For example “lathers” in this game board is worth 14 points since none of 7 letters have been stacked on another (7 letters x 2 points each = 14)

If any part of your word contains a stacked letter, you score one point for each letter of your word and one point for each tile that is underneath. For example as the word “DUDE” has been played, you get four points for the actual word and then an additional 3 points for the tiles underneath the “DUD” (4 + 3 = 7)

My mom was beating me throughout the first three quarters of this game but I took the lead and really put things away when I combined three words together.

“MOBILE” was a brilliant word for me to play in this game. It’s hard to tell but the “M” was the fifth letter stacked at the top of the word “MELD.” The “E” was also five letters high, the “L” three and the “D” two. As such, that one word alone was worth 15 points

Before my turn, the word “BILE” on the board was actually “FILE” and “MELD” was originally “HELD.” So not only did I put an “M” on top of the “H” to form a new word going down, I also added an “O” across the board and stacked a “B” to spell the the word “MOBILE” going across and “BAND” going down.

In this one turn, I only placed two tiles down on the board but formed three new words, and scored 47 points. Not bad, eh?

I think it took us both a while to figure out that stacking and forming multiple words is the real way to rack up points in this Scrabble variant.

It was a close game and I thought there were a few times when she’d come back and surpass me, but it didn’t happen. I won.

My mom is already demanding a rematch. I better watch out. I’m sure she’s going to be a lot tougher to beat next time around. But that’s just adds to the fun.

More Scrabble Posts

How to Make a Clean Version of Any Song

Sometimes a song just isn’t appropriate to play on your radio show or in your classroom due to inappropriate language.

Here is a quick and easy way to make a clean version of any song.

The first thing you need to do is download and install Audacity. It is a free sound recording program that is quite versatile and very easy to use. I have used it to record mixsets for my radio show and all of my recent mixtapes. I have even used it in the classroom to record Reader’s Theatre and Radio Plays.

You will first need to open the MP3 file in Audacity. If you don’t know how to do this, look at this past tutorial I made that will walk you through it.

Once the track is loaded into Audacity, you simply need to highlight the offensive word using Audacity  and then set it to play in reverse. Here’s how . . .

I hope you have found this tip useful.

You don’t need to be a superstar DJ to manipulate audio files or edit tracks any longer.

Other Audacity Tips

Inspiring Tale From the Classroom – A Student’s Resiliency

Voltaic Systems Backpack
Voltaic Systems Backpack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fellow teacher sent me an email and asked if I could share this story with my readers. I think you’ll appreciate it as it is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming.

It’s nice to hear these kinds of stories. For security and professional reasons, I am not going to divulge any personal details of the story. I will let you know that every aspect of it is true, however.

If you are reading this and feel compelled to tell a story from your experience as a teacher, please contact me, and I’ll be happy to share it as well.

I was pulled aside by my principal first thing Wednesday morning and told that one of my first grade students would be absent that day because his house burned down the night before.  

Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but the student was left homeless.  His family lost everything in the fire.  I was anxious to help in any way that I could, but had no way to contact the family. This morning, the student returned to school.  He came straight to class and leaned on my shoulder, looking exhausted.  I asked if he was okay.  He hesitated, then nodded.  I told him that if he needed anything, I could help. I did not specifically address the fire because I had no idea what he witnessed or how it affected him.  

Later, he addressed the fire himself during writing.  He wrote a very brief, factual account of what happened.  He was sad that his house burned down and everything was gone. After reading his writing, I asked him again if he was okay.  He seemed sure of himself when he said yes.  I reiterated that if wanted or needed anything, I could get it.  Anything anything.  He said he just wanted a new homework folder and a backpack.  I told him again–anything anything.  He didn’t change his answer.  All he wanted was a new homework folder and a backpack. That’s it.  

The resiliency of some children can be really inspiring. Imagine losing everything you had ever owned and your only wish is to get some material to help you continue your schooling.

I had a similar experience a few years back. There was a fire and one of the older students in the school reacted quickly to get his family out of the house and to safety. The fire department even came to the school and presented him with an award. The school did a special fundraiser for the family as well.

Thank you for sharing this story with us, dear reader. I’m sure people have been touched by it. I hope your student gets everything he needs and continues to flourish in your classroom. Your compassion and care for your students is just as inspiring. All the best to you and your students

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Teaching Tip – Clothespins and Binder Rings

Clothespins and binder rings are quite handy to have around the classroom. They are relatively inexpensive and can be used throughout the entire school year without having to replace them.

Here’s a way to assign your students to reading centres for the day.

All you need to do is write the name of a student on a clothespin. Once you’ve done this for the entire class, you have an easy way of keeping track of quite a few things.

I love how easy a system this is. The clothespins can be rotated each day so the students can be cycled through all the centres during the week. It is easy for them to see where they have to go and what needs to be done.

I also like the use of binder clips here. What an ingenious way to maximize the space in the classroom and keep everything organized.

Here’s another idea I found on PreKinders
You can use clothespins in a Kindergarten classroom because the students require fine motor skill practice. I like this letter matching activity and can think of a few ways that it could be adapted for other activities.

Let’s get back to binder clips.

With a deck of index cards, a whole punch, and a simple binder clip, you can make a portable study device. Your students can take home sight words, spelling lists, and vocabulary words to practise at their leisure.

Do you have any creative ways to use clothespins and binder clips? 

Please leave a comment below.

More Teaching Tips

The Hunger Games Don’t Satiate (What Else is on the Menu?)

I felt compelled to read The Hunger Games based on all the hype the young adult series of books has been garnering. Many of the students in my school have read the trilogy and were very excited about the release of the movie last week. So, I thought I should read the book before I hear all about the movie from them.

The book didn’t grab me right away but I decided to reserve any judgement and keep plugging away at it. The first half of the novel was a little boring as the author set to establish this future distopian world. I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the writing either. I almost thought about putting the book down.

About halfway through the book, I was woken up from my slumberly read through with a very violent and unexpected scene.

The title of the book refers to a yearly competition in which kids are pitted against each other in a fight to the death. The competitors are chosen at random, one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts.  Each district specializes in one industry and the inhabitants have to work hard for very little compensation. As such, they are perpetually underfed. The winner’s district is rewarded with extra food and the entire event is televised for all to see.

I was really put off by how violent this book is and how it is marketed towards children. The book really is about untrained kids being thrown into a large biosphere of a gladiator’s arena and being forced to kill one another.

The book is very violent and it’s not even that fresh of a concept. It reminded me of the Arnold Swartzenegger movie The Running Man. We care for the characters who don’t want to be part of the game but have a lot at stake in surviving. It hits the basic emotional arcs we’d expect from this type of tale but it really doesn’t do much else.

I didn’t enjoy this book and I don’t plan on reading any more of the series. I really can’t understand the fandom that has surrounded it and I don’t think it’s something  young children should be exposed to. How come they can’t turn the Artemis Fowl series into a movie franchise? I can think of half a dozen other series that deserve the fandom more.

That’s my take on it. 

What’s your’s? 

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