You have to know yourself as a rapper, before you can do justice to the art form.
Welcome to #BARS! OK, let’s get clear –
The Art of Rap is not a disposable accessory or party trick, but the most recent iteration of a long-standing oral tradition of storytelling, whether it be through spoken word, music or theater. For the popular Rap genre of music, sincerity is essential to its core. The most celebrated rappers of the last 30 years are those who mastered accessing that sincerity on stage and on record. At the same time, every rapper is also somewhat playing a version of themselves, and that character is very much like any actor’s relationship to a character; it’s the commonalities between the two that makes the portrayal work. As an actor, an understanding of yourself is needed in order to be able to connect with who you are to portray, right? The same is true here! You have to know yourself as a rapper, before you can do justice to the Art form. Otherwise, you run the risk of just looking like one of those posers that the internet will surely make fun of. #nightmare
Rapping in the theater space is a relatively new progression of theater. It is not only an extension of the role music plays in theater, but is often used to pack more information into scenes to move the story forward, and create energy without the necessity of impressive singing skills. It’s a tall order.
So this is a course to introduce Rap for Rhythmic/Musical Theater. For the Rapper who wants to find their place in theater, or the Actor who wants to incorporate more rapping into their wheelhouse – this gets you to the center of both.
This 7-part series and final performance is a combination of workshops, exercises and history that my friend and collaborator Daveed Diggs (broadway’s Hamilton) and I have created, bundled and used over the last 10 years. It was developed as part of our work in arts education with middle and high school students in the Bay Area, Daveed’s work with Freestyle Love Supreme/The Freeze SF, and through the curriculum I created when I was Creative Director of the Hip Hop/emerging Theater undergraduate arts program at the University of Wisconsin Madison. We’re going to dig into some history together, discuss some theory, and then we’re going to rap, and write, and perform. A lot.
But disclaimer: No one should be going around saying they’re a “rapper” just by taking this workshop. This isn’t “Save the last dance”, it’s not an accelerated rap credential or hood pass. If you want to be a rapper, you have to do rap sh*t, like rap shows, record rap albums, put out music, pay those dues, join the community, etc. But this IS an introduction to rap for the theater, and is all about arming you with techniques to harness this expansion of your craft.
So we are going to learn some history, rituals & techniques of rap. We are going to begin to wire your brain so it’s second nature, like a musician improvising on a guitar. We are going to build you another tool you can use, just like your singing voice. And like the powerful ritual of singing, and powerful ritual of theater, this immersive course will invite you into the art of writing & performing #BARS, to put you at the forefront of this emerging intersection of mediums.
Can’t wait to get started!