The Current Logo

HERU: Hip Hop as Literacy

Written by Bryce Anderson-Small
June 24, 2013

21st Century Hiphop as Literacy:

“Knowing to read does not make you literate.

…….It makes you able to read. Literacy is the ability to see yourself inside the world, inside the words, to be able to connect the information you are given and see your own reflection and be able to articulate, in no certain language, how you feel about the subject matter.

Literacy is being able to understand that you are a part of the human family and your voice & story are relevant.” jessica Care moore

HERU defines literacy as one’s ability to access a particular language (body, spoken, or creative) to effectively communicate an experience (spiritual, emotional, or physical) to themselves or another individual. Like Jessica’s definition above, we see literacy as central to our humanity, and hip hop as a fundamental mechanism for understanding both ourselves more thoroughly as well as our deep interconnectedness with each other.

Below is a media piece produced by two young people from the 5eHERU Biz that highlights a young self-identifying emcee using his artistry to process, question, and communicate his feelings [vent] on a range of personal topics.

We see hip hop culture as a highly evolved, accessible, and comprehensive system of human communication. Hip hop is a vibrant and creative culture that is based on 5-fundamental elements: dj, bboy, emcee, graffitti, and knowledge [love] of self.

As a tool, we use hip hop to create and evolve our person and environment; we also use hip hop to inspire learning and positively affect behavior modification. 
Inherent in our hip hop cultural expressions are the values of ancestor acknowledgement, self-determination, community-building, and intergenerational skill sharing.

For HERU, hip hop literacy is our young people lovingly projecting their reality through this rich cultural lens, to create entertainment media which shares their unique stories, and connects community members around issues that the young people themselves deem most important.

(pic above: 19-year old 5eHERU Biz media mentor/ artist King Kold debut maxi-single cover art “I’m Chillin”)