Once upon a time a rap course at university…

Once upon a time a rap course at university…

Once upon a time a rap course at university…Second masterclass series

This sequence is the last part of the series of local experiments called the “second masterclass series”. It took place from March to June 2022. It was made up of five parts:

  • 4 sessions of musical creation during the freestyle sessions of “Le Block” and “La Source” studios: conceptualizing theme, writing lyrics, structuring the song, recording. 
  • 4 scenography workshops at Le Block Studio and at Brequigny’s MJC (youth center).
  • An impromptu open-mic at the university – April 2022
  • A roundtable on the subject of “Rap and University” – May 2022
  • DMZ’s Showcase: Report on the sequence “A rap course at university” – June 2022

DMZ wanted this sequence to fit into their day-to-day organisation. Indeed, after assessing the first masterclass series, they realised they had trouble getting the young people to engage in new workshops that were held in new spaces, such as the ones that had been submitted to them during the first part of the project. To overcome this problem, DMZ thought the next series of activities should fall within the young people’s and youth workers’ day-to-day life, by using spaces the organisation was particularly familiar with, such as Block studio.

The freestyle sessions are weekly gatherings which take place all through the year, and during which the young people of DMZ can take a stab at writing rap lyrics. Some also attend to perfect their skills. These workshops are led by DMZ facilitators/rappers. During the months of March and April, DMZ decided to give some of these sessions a theme. The young people were to express themselves freely on the following subject: “a rap course at university”. As stated previously, this setup enabled DMZ to have access to a target group that was already captive and committed. It appears here that it is sometimes easier to start a new action, a new dynamic, sometimes even a new project, when it is conceived as part of the day-to-day life of an organisation, i.e. when it overlaps with some of the recurring activities of the organisation. The participants received the theme well. Indeed, several expressed the fact that they had many things to say on the matter.

After the freestyle sessions, the young people are offered the possibility to practice performing their texts through scenography workshops. This was also the case for the sequence “a rap course at university”. The young people thus worked on their scenography and practiced onstage in order to be able to perform their texts in front of an audience, as would be the case during the show scheduled on 30 June 2022.
From April 2022 onwards, several events enriched and gave a dynamic to the sequence. The first event was called « Rap Your Voice » and was organised by students who got involved in the sequence by setting up an activity. They took part in the sequence, first by participating in the freestyle sessions, and then by offering to organise a first public drill: an “Impromptu Open-Mic”. The evening was initially meant to take place on the university’s premises, but as the students did not receive authorisation, they moved it to the Pasteur Hotel, a “project hotel” and former odontology university.

On 21 May 2022, DMZ organised a roundtable entitled “Rap at University” in order to delve deeper into the relationship between the two. The discussion was held between Anna Cuomo, an anthropologist at the CNRS, and Kévin Wandja, aka L’Authentique (“the Genuine one”), a rap artist and facilitator. The aim of this roundtable was to reveal the various links and connections already existing between university and the world of rap… and those that do not yet exist. In order to do this, the discussion was facilitated by Maxime Lecoq, based on several questions and reflexions, such as: “If I were an academic field, which rap song would I be?” or “Which intellectual figures have had a meaningful influence on me?”. Later in the day, DMZ offered to play “RAP”, a game based on the book Recueil à Punchline (Punchline Collection) and introduced an open-mic led by l’Authentique.

Here some pictures…

To conclude this sequence, DMZ organised a showcase on 30 June 2022, with four of its member artists: Elayis, D14, Msath and L’Authentique. During this event, the staged report of the young people who had taken part in the sequence since March 2022 was revealed. The report introduced young people explaining to their professor how university can be violent and how the knowledge you develop when practicing rap is as legitimate as academic knowledge. Patricia Loncle, a professor in social sciences at the university, had also taken part in the writing game during the freestyle sessions. She concluded the report by slamming a poem on informal and non-formal knowledge. It is important to note that during the show, several university staff members were in the audience and were able to take the correct measure of what the young people were expressing, some of whom had never been beyond secondary school. We wanted young people for whom university is a very distant reality, to be able to report on their work in a way that reflected who they are, in the same students give classical presentations.