Rock The School Bells: brings workshops to campus


Will Nacouzi/The Skyline View

The competitors for the rap competition getting ready for the event.

Education. Motivation. Presentation.
On March 1, Skyline College hosted the 7th Annual Rock The School Bells hip-hop conference, which offered motivation and education to aspiring artists with workshops and a platform to showcase their talents.

Keynote speaker and hip-hop educator Sebastian Elkouby kicked off the all day event with a message focused on how hip-hop has evolved. He spoke on what exactly can be done to honor its true essence. Elkouby, who has worked best selling hip-hop artists such as Kanye West, explained how the media has changed the image and message of hip-hop in a negative way by encouraging sex, drugs, violence, guns and ignorance. It wasn’t until 1992 when gangster rap became more preferable among record label contractors.

Elkouby shared his experiences as an aspiring rapper who was involved in the ’90s hip-hop movement. Eventually, he did get a contract offer with a record label company, but was told that he would actually be recording for gangster rap music. Lacking lyrical freedom, he was hesitant to sign. The executives were astonished with his disapproval to change the content of his music; his intention was to promote conscious lyrics for hip-hop listeners.

This lecture encouraged those who are part of the hip-hop community on how important it is to keep educating one another, as well as help envision the future of hip-hop, and not selling out in the process.

“It is possible for hip hop to be controlled by the mass if we all support the same message,” Said Elkouby.

Soon after, workshop sessions began and everyone went to whatever intrigued them the most. There was Turntables for All!, which featured four stationed turntables, each specified in one aspect of DJing. Other workshops included Hip-Hop Choreography (B-boy style), The Ins and Outs of of the Music Industry, and Graffiti Lettering Workshop to name of few.

The second breakout session included a cypher-style spoken workshop, a lecture on the art of branding and a video documentary called “Hip Hop 360: The Growth and Culture of Hip Hop.”

Douglas Brookes, 10, attended the lecture on the art of branding. He now sees how it truly is more than just a logo along with the business aspect behind it.

“I just learned something great today and I hope to pursue this in my future,” Brookes said.

For the last session workshops included Rap, Religion & Relationships, Spittin’ Beats, Breakin’ Workshop, and The Rhythm of my Education – How Hip Hop Infused My College Experience. For those who prepared for a side workshop there was also dance and black book battles and DJ beatmaking stations.

Event volunteer and Skyline student, Lady Flor, came to the event for the first time and happily expressed her experience.

“I am so impressed with the hip hop community and their attempt to try to change the world. It’s amazing to be a part of,” Flor said.

There were also educator conferences throughout the day if participants wanted to go deeper into this event. Lecture topics included: Ideological Literacy & Critical Consciousness, Word is Bond: Building hope through Hip Hop, Critical Pedagogy, and Ethnic Studies, Bringing Beats into a Classroom, and Academic Applications of Hip Hop, all of which were presented by experts in the subject.

This event was well attended by youth who openly expressed their enthusiasm which is essential to the hip-hop culture and Zulu nation. Elders and pioneers were present to pass down the knowledge of hip-hop and acceptance to the younger generations. This process of enculturation brought unity to the hip-hop community.

Honor’s transfer program director, John Ulloa, volunteered at the event after years of wanting to do so. He was excited to bring his son Isaac, 11, who participated in the workshops.

“My favorite part of the event was seeing youth come together in a climate of positivity, and participate in some very profound workshops with no drama and no drugs. Everybody just came together in a real sense of community with positive revolts.”