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Students finding their rhythm in life with Rondo school's rap program

Students finding their rhythm in life with rap program at St. Paul's High School for Recording Arts
Students finding their rhythm in life with Rondo school's rap program 03:36

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul, an out of the box lesson plan has turned into something really special.

It's a full-out professional operation, and it has the esteemed St. Paul High School for Recording Arts hopping with middle schoolers.

This is a lesson plan months in the making as the students of St. Peter Claver in Rondo put a language arts lesson into a musical art form.

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"It's a lot of different components that goes into this type of program, from syntax patterns to literature to history," artist and educator Chadwick "Niles" Phillips said. "It's songwriting, learning how to write a verse, how to invoke emotion within that verse, how to write a chorus and just a full song in general."

After months of prep work, the students got to record their original raps with industry pros.

"I didn't expect it to be like this, to be honest. It's something that maybe I want to do in the future, I like it a lot," eighth grader Julius said.

READ MORE: Parents at St. Paul's J.J. Hill Montessori School speak out against cuts, including only Black teacher

His classmate Demyiah likes it, too.

"It felt awesome, it felt really good hearing myself on the mic and like in the studio and stuff. So it was actually a fun experience," she said.

They say this made the tedious and emotional writing process worth it.

"Writing it is like, it's kind of like a poem but you know you have to sing it on beat -- or rap it or singing, whatever you're doing for your song -- on beat so it makes it a little harder," Julius said. "Like you can express yourself in different ways through lyrics in a song, without actually using words and stuff."

"I felt freedom, it was really cool expressing myself and hearing my voice through a microphone and stuff that I never got to experience," Demyiah said. "I'm very much proud, really proud."

So is their leader.

"They all did it and I'm just so excited for them. Because when it's finished and they listen to it, that's like equity that they have for the rest of their lives. Who knows what that song, what opportunities them having a song created could bring them," Phillips said.

"Try different things, 'cause I never tried this before and it's actually fun and I like it and I would do it again," Demyiah said.

So will Julius. He's now interested in becoming a performer or a producer.

"They are making songs but in disguise of it all, they are learning life skills that they can be able to use as they move forward. So to me that's what means the most to me," Phillips said.

Students who are truly finding their rhythm in life.

Listen to the students' songs below

St. Peter Claver students create rap song 02:21
Students at St. Peter Claver create rap song 01:21
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