GZA has partnered with Columbia University Teachers College professor Christopher Emdin and ten New York City public schools to help spark interest in the sciences by using hip hop as a vehicle for education. Emdin and GZA have developed a competition called Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. which will see students develop rhymes about topics in science and battle to have their verses published on Rap Genius.
GZA’s upcoming album ‘Dark Matter,’ which includes lyrics about the Big Bang, illustrates the Wu-Tang Clan rappers interest in science. “It’s inspired by science. And it’s all about the universe,” GZA told PBS.
According to Emdin , bringing science together with hip hop will help keep students interested and the cultural power of GZA will make all the difference. “This is a response to achievement gaps in science and mathematics. It is a response to students’ disinterest in science, and more broadly to kids just not wanting to show up in school… There are a lot of fly-by-night approaches to improve the classrooms, and the one thing they lack is cultural authenticity,” he said.
Students have already expressed a positive response to the program including Keegan Dillion who’s convinced he’ll earn top marks under the program. “I had lost my passion for science, but now that they’re mixing it up with music, I actually feel I can get an A-plus,” said Dillion.