Thursday, May 13, 2004

Newport kids' rap CD flows

Rhymin', for shizzle

By Karen Gutierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ken Eckert, a sixth-grade science teacher at Newport Middle School, goes over the lyrics to a rap song with students who wrote and recorded a CD as part of a class art project.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/PATRICK REDDY
These kids are realists. Those CDs that cost $15? Those are by the really popular groups.

"We aren't that popular yet, so that's why we decided to come up with something between $5 and $10," says James Walker, a sixth-grader at Newport Middle School.

He and dozens of classmates just put out their first CD, titled NMS Sixth Grade Remix. Selling for $8, it features 12 rap songs the sixth-graders wrote with musician David Kisor. His involvement was sponsored by Adopt-A-School, a division of ArtLinks in Cincinnati.

"He's one of them teachers who lets kids do what they want, instead of telling us what kinds of songs to write," sixth-grader Andrea Borgemenke says.

In the end, the students surprised themselves: They were good.

At first students were nervous about the singing, they said. But Kisor's liaison at the school, science teacher Kent Eckert, soon caught them up in his enthusiasm.

"He's the big reason we're not shy anymore," student Taylor Gross says.

Besides writing songs, the students voted on a CD name, helped design the graphics and learned about music economics.

"You've got to pay people to take your pictures; you've got to pay your producers," sixth-grader Jamar Wilson says.

The rappers soon will perform at an orientation for incoming fifth-graders. One of their songs, called "3 N 2 1," describes how the district's three elementaries feed into one middle school.

The lyrics mention other famous threesomes, such as the Dixie Chicks, Bravehearts and Destiny's Child. All student picks, of course.

"I voted for ZZ Top," Eckert jokes, "but nobody took mine."

To purchase NMS Sixth Grade Remix, call Newport Middle School at (859) 292-3017.


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