This song was created by three students in the Hip Hop literacy project at William Smith High School in Aurora, Colorado. In this project, students develop their literary analysis skills and apply them to hip hop lyrics, learn about the history and culture of hip hop, and write, record, and perform their own original hip hop lyrics.
“Sky Fall,” written by 1oth and 11th graders Oscar, Daniela, and Timoteo, is about the value of perseverance in the face of obstacles. These three students revised their lyrics, again and again, working together to achieve the precise sound and message and they wanted to create. This recording, made at the studio at Youth on Record in Denver, CO, reflects the many hours these students poured into writing, revising, and rehearsing this powerful piece of art.
We Asked the Teacher
What makes this particular piece a model for other students?
It was clear to me and all the students in our Hip Hop Literacy class that this track was a true model of excellence. As you can tell if you listen to the recording, the students who created this track took complete ownership over it and made it into something truly original and profound (and this was even more evident in their live performance!). Oscar, Daniela, and Tim spend hours and hours outside of class, perfecting and rehearsing their lyrics. Their hard work directly inspired the other students in the class to push themselves further as students and as artists.
What would be your advice to a teacher that is inspired by this project?
This model of excellent work is a great example of what can happen when we help students make real connections between the academic content of our classes and their own vision and creativity. In Hip Hop Literacy, students worked hard to develop their literary analysis skills and apply them to the lyrics of contemporary emcees such as Kendrick Lamar. This richer understanding of literary devices and specific rhyme techniques then informed what students themselves were able to do as lyricists and performers. Help students analyze what is great in the thinking and writing of others, and their own thinking and writing can become great.
How This Project Can Be Useful
- An excellent model of how perseverance and collaboration lead to a professional-quality final product
- A project that will be exciting as a model for students of all ages
- Shows how using a hip-hop format can be inspirational