Monthly Archives: December 2012

My Year in Review

At the very start of this year, I decided to set a few goals for myself. Now that it is the final day of the year, it’s time to look back and see how I have done.

GOAL 1 – Release Know Your History Episodes on Time
I released the episodes to the radio and podcast on time. I just didn’t get them transcribed for the blog on time. 
GOAL 2 – Do an Artist Interview Every Month
On average, I did this one. Yay!

I didn’t transcribe them all though. I just don’t have the time to do that anymore. Sorry!

GOAL 3 – Polish my YA Novel and Get it Published
I didn’t even look at my manuscript this year. Not even once. I can blame the job search I had to do in the spring, the summer job I had to do to make ends meet, family obligations, the radio show, and podcast, and a variety of other things. 
This is a goal I am going to have to carry over to 2013. Better late than never, right?
GOAL 4 – Write a Novel

Being the instrumental music teacher at two different schools has been a lot of work this year. So much so that there was no way I could have done National Novel Writing Month and still kept my sanity.
GOAL 5 – Write a Screenplay
The teacher job market really starts to heat up in April so I had to make a tough decision and write job applications all month instead of a screenplay. I had hoped to write one at some point in the year but I didn’t get around to it either. 
GOAL 6 – Monthly Mixtapes
Did this one and more. Yay!
GOAL 7 – Keep Fit
I went on a trail run last week. That’s the latest I have ever run in the calendar year. I skateboarded a lot this year too. And I am proud to say that I haven’t gained a pound since high school. Fit as a fiddle!
GOAL 8 – Write an E-book
I’ve wanted to write a teaching-related ebook for some time now. I still want to do this. I just need to find the time.

GOAL 9 – Read a Lot

I read 65 books this year. I can safely say that I did this one. I was hoping to read one book on average per week. I totally surpassed that goal. Yay!


It looks like I failed on a lot of my goals.

When I originally started this blog, I had a 5-year Mission to become a published author by 2012. Now we sit here on the last possible day of that happening and I know it won’t. It’s a little sad. It’s my fault though. I didn’t put in the work.

I also didn’t review my original list throughout the year. I let it get buried in the archives and didn’t think much of it until now as I decided to wrap up the year’s worth of blog entries.

Tomorrow, I will launch my set of goals for 2013. This time, I will be sure to print out the blog post and stick it on my fridge. I’ll work harder to reach all my goals and possibly finish a few of the above ones as well.

Happy New Year! 

Top 12 Albums of 2012

I started this tradition three years ago with the Top 9 albums of ’09 and continued it the following years with the Top 10 Albums of 2010 and the Top 11 of 2011.

One thing I like about these year-end lists is that I often discover music I missed out on all year long. I often join the party late and pick up new-to-me releases at the end of the year and bump them straight through to the spring.

Maybe you’ll discover some new music from me this year.

It is now time for the Top 12 Albums of 2012.

# 12. D Will and Dominique La Rue – Diem

I love to hear women on the microphone dropping knowledge over great beats. Women are not as rare in hip-hop as you might expect. They just don’t seem to be able to raise to the level of success that their male counterparts do. I hope that changes soon. This album is proof. I love every track.

#11. Arrested Development – Standing at the Crossroads

This one really surprised me. I have their first album that is now twenty years old, but I haven’t paid much attention to them since that seminal release.

I was hipped to this album from Dan, a fellow writer over at The Word is Bond, and his review sold me on this album before I even heard it. But once I did, I couldn’t stop bumping this one. Dope lyrics, great beats, and singable choruses make this a stand-out album for 2012.

We even included it in our collective Top 10 year-end list over at WIB.

#10. Murs and 9th Wonder – The Final Adventure

Murs and 9th Wonder are a perfect team. Murs crafts great songs and drops introspective lyrics that don’t focus on the typical hip-hop fare. He always sounds best when backed by 9th Wonder as well. This is the fifth album they’ve done together and apparently the last. That’s a shame. I loved each outing and this one has been one of my most played albums this fall.

# 9. Gabriel Teodros – Colored People’s Time Machine

When I was a teenager, I used to go to record shops every week. I would glance through the store and look for releases that caught my attention for one reason or another. I don’t visit record stores anymore but I do regularly check blogs and other music sites much the same way.

This release caught me eye for a few reasons. I like the idea of music being a time machine, I thought some of the guest artists sounded like female rappers, and the cover makes it look like it is a multicultural affair.

The album is all those things and more. It is sonically beautiful. The guest artists shine and there is some food for thought in the lyrics.

# 8. Apollo Brown and O.C. – Trophies

Word . . . Life is a hip-hop classic that came out in 1994. I loved that album so much and thought O.C. was going to become a huge superstar. Unfortunately, he never did quite live up to his potential.

This album will hopefully introduce him to a new era of fans. The rhymes and beats fit together perfectly on this project, something that has been lacking in his last few releases. Apollo Brown provides the soundscape for this album and it’s definitely a banger.

# 7. Kool Krys – Listen to Your Art

Gamma Krush spins a lot of Kool Krys music in his mixsets. It’s how I was first introduced to her music and it just goes to show you the power of underground radio and podcasts.

Kool Krys came by the radio station earlier this year for our Women in Hop-Hop Roundtable Discussion. I was already won over by her music but came to love her even more after hanging out with her for the afternoon and having a great discussion on the radio. She even autographed my CD.

# 6. Saigon – The Greatest Story Never Told Chapter 2: Bread and Circuses

Saigon drops knowledge over dope beats. He has a great flow. His songs are actually about something. The album title might be a bit long and awkward but don’t let that stop you from checking for this one. Even if you’ve never heard of him before, this is a great starting point.

This album deserves to be higher up on this list as well. But my Top 5 is reserved for my most played albums of the year. This just missed the cut.

# 5. Taylor Swift – Red

Taylor Swift took a risk on this album, a risk that I wasn’t sure would pay off. She decided to wear her influences on her sleeve, to let each song’s lyrical content be reflected in the sound of the backdrop. At first, I thought she was abandoning her country roots and moving over to pop. But she stayed true to herself and crafted an excellent release.

Her music has always been accessible and equally at home on the pop charts or the country chart. So this really isn’t that much of a change of pace for her.

# 4. The Book Thieves – In Spite of Everything

Rappers talking about books? Rappers calling themselves “The Book Thieves?” I have to check this out. That’s what I told myself when this album caught my eye.

It is simply brilliant. You can read my entire review and hear samples of the album over at The Word is Bond.

# 3. Symmatree – The Balancing Act

I was surfing around Bandcamp earlier this year and I came across this release and it completely blew me away. Intelligent lyrics, dope beats, soulful samples, and a nice flow.

Symmatree celebrates what’s best in hip-hop music and culture. It’s obvious he has a passion for this and it shines through in every track. This is an incredible project well worth your time.

# 2. Brother Ali – Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color

Brother Ali is my favourite rapper in the game right now. He’s a super-cool, down-to-earth guy and I was fortunate enough to get a second interview with him this year.

His music is the truth and touches on quite a few relevant topics for the times we live in. He does so without ever sounding preachy as well, which is a difficult thing for some consciously minded emcees to do.

It’s almost hard to believe this album missed the Number 1 spot.

# 1. Ngajuana – Section One

I met Ngajuana a few years back at an award show in London, Ontario, Canada. We had an interesting discussion about the local hip-hop scene, the use of the n-word in rap music, and the songwriting process. I interviewed him again this year and we had another great discussion.

This album really surprised me. I haven’t been able to stop playing it all year. I’ve featured many of the tracks on my mixsets, mixtapes, and podcast episodes too.

Ngajuana has the talent of crafting great hooks that make it almost impossible not to sing along to. His music is underground hip-hop in its purest form. However, the songs are so accessible that I’m puzzled as to why you are not hearing him on the radio.

I absolutely love this album and hope NGA wins legions of fans off the strength of it. It is an amazing project and truly deserving of the Number 1 spot this year!

Last Reads of the Year

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

I love the concept of this novel. It’s about the man who first started to count and measure time. It started out innocently enough, but this one man’s preoccupation changed the entire world. As such, he became Father Time and it didn’t seem to be a blessing at all.

I whipped through this book and read it in a mere two days. It was a refreshing story, well-told and paced, and kept me gripped for three hours.

Time really does fly when you’re having fun or enjoying a great story.

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Imagine having to live at the dump, to pick through the trash and look for items of value. Imagine having to do this as a young child to support your family. It’s a world of unthinkable poverty in a third-world country and it is the daily life for three young boys who have an incredible story to tell.

The story is pieced together from a variety of first-person accounts. I recommend listening to this audio book version of the story since each character is voiced by a different actor. It makes it easy to follow along with who is telling each part of the story.

Usually, the boys don’t find anything of interest. It’s just a way of life for them but that all changes one day with a curious find that will have trying to figure out the secret of what they have discovered.

I enjoyed listening to this story and it is recommended listening!

Green Lantern Corps: Revolt of the Alpha-Lanterns by Tony Bedard, Adrian Syaf, and Vincent Cifuentes

This is the 11th Green Lantern title that I read this year. I have enjoyed the series but since I have read them out of order, I already knew a lot of what happened in this story.

The story focuses on Boodikka and we learn about her past prior to becoming an Alpha-Lantern, a process that pretty much turned her into a emotionless robot. The story takes us even further back in time with flashbacks showing her just prior to becoming a Green Lantern as well.

Alpha-Lanterns were orginally meant to police the Green Lantern Corps. They were programmed to be logical and fair but they are now being controlled by an enemy threat. This is a new and dangerous threat that John Stewart and the rest of the Lanterns have to win against.

My Reading List 2012

That’s it.

65 books read in one year.

I have never kept a reading log for an entire year. That is a pretty impressive number of books, don’t you think?

I’m an avid reader with a digital bookcase now. I like that. I am definitely going to try this again next year.

See you in 2013 for some more great reads!

Teaching Tip – Geography

Teaching Tip Tuesday is a regular feature here on Silent Cacophony.

Every week I share with you a tip that I hope you will find useful in your teaching.

You can visit the Teaching Tips Archive to see all of the tips in the order I have posted them over the years. Please check that page as I will continue to update it every week with the latest Teaching Tip.

This page is all about the Geography Strand of the Social Studies curriculum. It will include tips, tricks, and lessons that you can use in your classroom instruction.

Please bookmark this page and come back often. I will update it with any new tip I publish that has to do with classroom posters.

You might also want to check my Pinterest page for more great ideas.

I hope you enjoy these Teaching Tips.

Map Adventures

The Power of Musical Education

“We make a big mistake in education by compensating everyone called ‘teacher’ on the same salary schedule. Music teachers arguable work longer hours, have greater influence, and contribute more to the community than most of their colleagues. Music education positions are unique. Why should a music educator’s salary be equal to that of a colleague who never works past the minimum workday? Is equal really fair? Hardly, but unfortunately the majority allows the status quo to continue.”

What an incredible idea. I don’t expect to get paid more simply because I teach instrumental music now. But I am putting in more hours. I not only manage several classes, hold extra practice sessions, and run regular extra-curricular activities each and every week, but I also have instruments to maintain and repair. All of this takes a lot of extra time.

While I agree with the sentiment here, I don’t see anything about this changing. I would argue that we need more money for music education but it doesn’t necessarily have to go to my salary. It can go to instrument repair and purchasing, band uniforms, and travelling expenses so we can play and perform frequently.

I think music is a gift that should be shared. Students learn a lot through performance. They learn that it takes commitment and discipline to put on a show. They can feel proud in a job well done. They can feel part of a group. They learn cooperation and feel a sense of community.

I think everyone should have a chance to experience these things. Some get it through sports, the rest get it through the arts. I love both. I am an athlete and a musician and I absolutely love it.

Enhancing the Professional Practice of Music Teachers: 101 Tips that Principals Want Music Teachers to Know and Do by Paul G. Young

My Complete List of 2012 Reads

The Word is Bond Christmas Special

I hope you’ve been following the weekly podcast I’ve been doing this year for The Word is Bond.

We dropped 40 episodes for you in 2012, bringing you the best in underground hip-hop music and talk.

This is the last show of the year.  A show dedicated to the type of Christmas music you don’t hear often enough. It’s a Christmas special that only we could bring you.

Please head on over to Our Mixcloud Page and give us a Facebook share. It’s a quick and easy way to vote for us to be included in the Best of 2012 list. Thanks!

If you like what you hear, you can also download this as a tracked mixtape for free.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saved Again

How many times have we be saved from complete annihilation and never even realized it?

I didn’t believe for even a second that there would be an apocalypse today. Just because one calendar came to an end, didn’t mean that the world would.

But perhaps we came close. Maybe The Doctor saved us once again.

Or perhaps it was Santa . . . 

Okay, that’s funny, but it’s a little disturbing. I think the world needs The Doctor and it needs Santa Claus.

In fact, I bet that Santa did try to save us but The Doctor swooped in and saved the day for all of us.

But strange things did happen today nonetheless. They trickled down to us common folk.

For me, it started when I got to work and realized that my wallet was not in my pocket. I retraced my steps and started to get really worried. It was snowing and I pictured it at home in the parking lot of my building right beside where my car had been parked.

It was hard to teach my classes this morning as I worried about my lost wallet.

It was all I could think about.

  • Was it lost? 
  • Had somebody found it? 
  • Were they racking up my credit cards? 
  • I wouldn’t be able to survive through my Christmas break without it
All these thoughts and more ran through my head. I asked the Vice Principal to cover one class for me so I would have time to run home and see if I could find it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had enough time to run home at lunch.

When I did get home, I found my wallet on my dresser. I don’t know how, but I had completely forgotten to put it in my pocket this morning. That has never happened before. Seriously. Never!

A couple other things happened today that made me think there was some negative energy surrounding the last day of the Mayan calendar.

I’m just glad that we all got through it in one piece.

How was your day? 


“People don’t believe what you tell them.

  • They rarely believe what you show them.
  • They often believe what their friends tell them.
  • They always believe what that they tell themselves.
What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change.”
– Seth Godin from the book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

What a brilliant poem, at least I read it as a poem.

This was an interesting book that I wanted to read because I want to be a leader in education. I want to inspire my students. I want to charge up the community. And I want to make a difference.

The book doesn’t tell us how to be a leader in any specific kind of way, but it does let us know that it’s possible and it’s something we can start doing. Right now.

I’m sure Seth won’t mind me sharing this small portion of his book either, especially since he writes this on the last page. . .

One Last Thing

May I ask a favor?

If you got anything out of this book, if you highlighted or circles or Post-it-ed, I’m hoping you’ll do something for me:

Give this copy to someone else.

Ask them to read it. Beg them to make a choice about leadership.

We need them. We need you.

Spread the word.


Well, Seth, I can’t pass this book on to anyone in a direct way since I borrowed it from the library, but I can encourage people to seek it out and read it as well. That’s the power of a blog post.

Thanks for a nice read and a great bit of inspiration!

Want to see what else I’ve read this year? 

Chasing Content – December 2007

Chasing Content is a monthly feature that has us looking back at the month that was.

Today, let’s travel back five years, and see what was happening right here on this blog at that time.

Read all of the posts from December 2007 . . . 

or just these favs . . .

Rap Music Isn’t Music – This is one of my most popular posts. I should refine it to make my argument even more solid, but some of the commenters did just that regardless. I decided to close comments on it though because the discussion was starting to get out of hand.

A Teacher on the Front Page (And It’s Good News) – Why doesn’t this kind of thing happen more often?

Destroying Our Sense of Closure – Why do television networks do this? I’d like a moment to take in what I just saw. I think we all need that moment. We don’t always have to be bombarded with advertising.

What is Your Dream Car? – I still would like to own two of these cars, and once they come up with a great car that runs on electricity and is affordable, I’m in.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me.

I’m slowly working on making these “Best of” posts for every month that I’ve blogged. If you’re new to Silent Cacophony, it’s a great place to start exploring some of my best posts.

Last Minute Christmas Art Ideas

Let’s look at some last minute Christmas craft ideas.

We’ll start with Art Attack, an amazing children’s television show. I have had my students recreate many of the featured art projects in the classroom. If you need a Christmas craft idea, this is a good place to start.

I love the Christmas Cone craft. I’ve done this one several times with my classes.

This is a neat advent calendar that is pretty easy to create.

This one takes a bit more time but it looks great.

And look at these cool ornaments I found on Pinterest.

Or how about this hand-painted Christmas tree (see what I did there?)

Hope this gives you some great last minute craft ideas for your classroom.

Teaching Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature here on Silent Cacophony. You can search the archive for all sorts of great ideas, tips, tricks, and lessons that you can use in your classroom.

Merry Christmas!