America SCORES, a nationwide youth development program that combines soccer, poetry writing and service learning all to help promote literacy and discourage obesity among inner-city kids, hits another one out of the park this week.
As a reward for winning last week’s community-wide poetry slam, a team of ten SCORES girls (aged 12-14) from Chalmers Elementary school in Southwest Chicago, gets a three-day hip-hop writing workshop with Da Internz, a promising hip-hop production team comprised of Marcos “Kosine on Da Beat” Palacios and Tuo Clark—a duo who most recently worked with big namers like Yung Joc and Letoya Luckett (formerly of Destiny’s Child).
Needless to say, the SCORES girls are all kinds of pumped.
“I should have videotaped this because nobody is going to believe I was here,” says Asysha Brawner from the back booth of Da Internz’s West Side recording studio.
“This is the best,” Shakyra Crafton says.
“It’s fun, exciting, a good opportunity for all of us,” sums up Dominique Hogan.
While the girls’ energy is difficult to top—“They are just so into it,” beams their SCORES writing coach Marissa Hirsh—Kosine and Tuo’s enthusiasm manage to compete.
“It’s as important for us to work with schools as it is to produce big records,” explains Kosine. “We are just excited ASCAP asked us to participate.”
While the task of working with a group of ten teenage girls seemed daunting at first (“We were like, ‘What?’” laughs Kosine), the production team has obviously adjusted with ease.
Tuo sings (in his best girl voice) with the young rappers while Kosine encourages everybody from the other side of the glass. “That last take was just wonderful, absolutely incredible,” he tells them.
Going into the workshop, Da Internz made a conscious decision to approach the girls as they do other artists—to ask them questions, get to know them and find out where they are coming from. Listening to bits and clips of the song—“If I work hard in school, I can do it real big, First Lady’s old news, I can be the President”—it is evident that Da Internz succeeded in getting the girls to open up and really “write their life.”
“Some people are hard to communicate with, but with Kosine and Tuo it’s easy,” Crafton says.
Da Internz don’t just talk with and encourage the girls, however. They demand hard work. After going to the American SCORES Web site and being blown away by the songs produced in similar ASCAP workshops all across the country, Kosine and Tuo got focused.
Kosine says, “We want to make the hit single on the America SCORES gold record.”
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