The words of a Griot!

They just wanna move ya body, I’m just tryna move ya mind.
They just wanna move ya body, I’m just tryna move ya mind.
They just wanna lose it up, I’m tryna stiffen spines.
Make you stand up and raise yo fist with some pride.”                         Please rise- Griot B


A few Saturdays ago at our Woke Cypha sessions we all got introduced to Griot B, a progressive Black educator who brings the stories of our people to his students through the art form of rap.

I can’t lie y’all this dude is dope as hell.

I got home and poured through his new project Our Story. With tracks like Mansa Musa, Black Wall Street, and Black Made That, this innovative teacher delivers powerful positive images about our people’s history and contributions to the world.

This ain’t just history, this is OUR STORY; Griot B explains our story on every powerful track and after my first listen I was filled with pride.

Griot B is a educator, rapper, and the founder of School Yard Rap; a company created with the goal to “educate through entertainment.”

He ain’t just rapping for fun y’all.

This man is honoring the rich and complex history of diasporic people in a way that I’ve never seen before. School Yard Rap also provides professional development and curriculum that is culturally responsive/ relevant; and fosters the academic rigor and sociopolitical consciousness necessary for our Black and Brown students to thrive.

A Black owned, Black operated company centered in Blackness, that provides professional development for teachers; all while keeping student engagement and growth central.

Sign me up.

On second thought that sounds like CREAD!!!

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The initial song I heard at the workshop was “Black Made That”, and while it was informational as hell; I honestly wasn’t taking him all that serious. The video is really cool and I like the way he combined his artistry with the rich history of Black peoples contributions to this country; but it had this whimsical feel, that posited it more as a parody rather than an intentional musical effort.

After watching the video I wasn’t sure if I could take Griot B seriously as a rapper. I couldn’t tell if this was a “real” rap album or not.

That is, until I started making my way through the actual body of the project. Once I made a concerted effort to listen to it I was blown away.

This dude ain’t rapping for fun. He is serious about his craft, message and intent, and at the same time he’s doing something I’ve never seen before. David Banner said in an interview that you can make music about whatever you want as long as the music is GOOD. Griot B makes good music and he’s doing so while not sacrificing the content or the historical legacy of our people.

Good stuff my brother.

The project has 18 tracks and I honestly can’t review them all, because they are so deep that I would have to write a blog for each track; but more importantly I don’t want to deprive you of the same “lightbulb moments” that I had when I first listened to it.

What I will do is set the stage for your larger listening experience by reviewing the intro, and probably my favorite of all the records on the album Please Rise.

The song starts off with a woman’s voice calling students to rise for the National Anthem, but a few bars in we are introduced to the Griot.

Let me be the first to say that the intro be everything to a project. Shit Meek Mill has had a classic intro rocking in clubs and on radio for close to ten years. There is great power in the introductory song and Griot B took full advantage of that.

He starts off saying:

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If this was my social media or a text stream I’d hit y’all with mad fire emojis and even drop a few bombs on my FunkMaster Flex ish.

My boy said “this that cure for the Crack Reagan sold, Mansa Musa coming back to slap Trump with a sack of gold.

BARSSSSSSSS.

That one line alone has all the power of a hard battle rap line with a smooth cadence and as much lyrical ability as I’ve ever heard. Not only that, but it made me feel something deep in my soul when he said it.

It made me feel pride and powerful for being Black.

The record is filled with imagery of influential Black leaders who have helped to shape our culture, and for that manner American culture, in amazing ways.

Recounting people like Basquiat and Angela Davis he captivates with the beauty of Black excellence. Literally in one verse he manages to speak on Frederick Douglass and Shaka Zulu, while still weaving in contemporary culture and even taking a shot at Stacey Dash.

Because, well, Stacey Dash sucks. LOL!

This man is talented.

With all his lyrical prowess and his deep understanding of our history, I think the most powerful part about the album is its ability to not only control our narrative, but also the way in which it never loses its celebratory demeanor.

My favorite part of the song reflects, at least to me, the overall message of the project. He raps:

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It’s refreshing to hear music that is intentionally moving away from some of this contemporary trash we have to deal with. Don’t get me wrong I be loving certain songs when they add to my overall vibe, but I acknowledge the lack of substance in a lot of the records. And while I’m not saying that I only want to listen to this conscious type of rap, I am saying that I appreciate the way in which this can impact our kids.

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As we close out BHM I hope that this album can be the soundtrack that underscores the lessons being taught in your classrooms for the rest of the year. Let the music and the message inspire you and use it as a way to educate your students in a manner that will really excite and engage them. I promise that once you all dig into these tracks together, that a space for collective learning and development will be cultivated.

What’s better than the words of a Griot as you work to educate our Black and Brown babies.

As always hold it down good people!

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