MEDINA — Garfield Elementary School students learned the history of hip-hop, some dance moves, and about how the musical genre can be a positive outlet in their lives Friday with the help of A-Minus, more commonly known as Ameer Williamson.
“Right now, I don’t like the way hip-hop has been portrayed,” Williamson said. “It’s being portrayed in a very negative way. A lot of the music you have has themes of crime, sex, drugs and all that. I saw how hip-hop could be an actual tool to connect with you because everyone loves hip-hop regardless.
“But I wanted to focus on a different side, a positive side, and talk about love, peace, happiness.”
The Ohio Regional Music Arts and Cultural Outreach (ORMACO) organization had reached out to Williamson to come and do a program for the students.
Hip-hop was quite a change from the usual programs ORMACO sponsors.
“With my organization we make cultural programs accessible,” said Thomas Sigel, executive director. “We try to mix up. We have classical, we have all different genres.”
Friday’s hip-hop lesson was a first. It hit just the right beat with Garfield students.
“The goal had been to expose kids to different cultural things like ballet, Chinese drummers, Russian folk dancers and this really was more of something they could connect with,” said Garfield Elementary School Principal Karen McGinty.
Akron-based Williamson has been working to spread his message through hip-hop and creativity for nearly a decade.
“I had started an after-school program called the New Way Project,” said Williamson. “With that program, we were teaching positivity through hip-hop and we had actual after-school classes where we would show them creative writing, we would show them videography and we had dance classes.”
Williamson hosted a residency at Garfield Elementary School during the day Friday, spending 45 minutes with each grade level teaching students the history of hip-hop, his philosophy, and even some music videos he made, according to McGinty.
“I just wanted to show them a brighter side to what they see on TV or what they hear on the radio,” said Williamson.