Teacher reflects on Oakland MC
Posted August 10, 2010 4:18 pm (about 3207 days ago)
Anthony “Supreme Sketch” Ragland wasn’t exactly one of those students who screamed potential to me. At the time I was a teacher at a new charter high school in east Oakland and my classroom, next to a church auditorium, also served as a main hallway so discipline was a constant issue, including a young Anthony casually strolling through my class on his cell phone. Not only did he refuse to hand it over, he was agitated that I had interrupted his conversation! I don’t remember how the situation was resolved, but we made our peace and he eventually became a part of “The DJ Project,” an after-school program designed to teach youth entrepreneurial skills through music. At times it was painful watching Anthony on the mic as he would suddenly become shy and his words were nearly inaudible. I didn’t see a future in music for him. Still, upon graduation Anthony would frequently visit the school and his growth in self-confidence was apparent, reflected in a rapid ascent to a management position at a local foot ware shop. He began to casually mention that he was back into music, as an MC no less, but I had my skepticism.
Lo and behold, a new video from Oakland, a reworking of B.o.B.’s “Nothing on You,” starts circulating on the internet, complete with references to the Black Panthers, Oscar Grant, and blatantly distancing oneself from the Oakland hyphy stereotype popularized a few years ago. The star of the video is none other than Anthony. As a hip-hop listener, I’m curious as to what else he comes up with. More importantly, as a person, this video gave me a shot of hope. In a society that too often eats its young, it was a great way to start the day, seeing how far this young man had come. Yet Anthony’s not alone. There’s no question that Oakland can be a tough place for youth, yet for every challenge, there are individuals and programs in place working towards change. Check out this latest example!
In the meantime, leave a comment at Anthony’s video to let him know that this is the type of hip hop we need more of!