Founded by Sebastien Elkouby, the Global Awareness Through Hip Hop Culture program (GATHC) is a UC approved, college-preparatory high school course, currently being taught at View Park Preparatory High School in South Los Angeles. This program offers students the opportunity to learn the history and culture behind the popular music genre which can be later used as a tool to pursue a career in Arts, Media, and Entertainment.
Elkouby has been teaching GATHC since 2007, but has been teaching through the lens of hip hop culture since 2001. He prides himself on being an educator at heart, who has always loved learning new things and sharing information with people.
“Back in the early 80’s, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5’s song, ‘The Message,’ drew me in because it was social commentary informing listeners about the ups and downs of life in the city,” Elkouby recalls. “Rap’s ability to teach was something I loved from the beginning.”
He explained how hip hop culture is all about sharing information and how the culture and rap music empowered him, which is something he wanted to do for a new generation.
“I designed my course to use hip hop culture as a medium to motivate, inform, empower, inspire, and educate young people in a creative way – essentially, a class I wish I had when I was a high school student,” he stated.
Elkouby expressed how 20 years ago, kids were much more open to learning about hip hop culture. He said that in today’s society, what he and his peers recognize as hip hop is very different from what today’s teen sees as hip hop.
The first semester of GATHC focuses on the history of hip hop culture by looking at the Civil Rights Movement. Elkouby said that this “sets the climate for hip hop’s eventual inception.”
“Then we make our way through all the eras of the culture, simultaneously learning about the social events that help shape the music, its creators, and society in general,” he went on to say.
“The second semester focuses on the state of today’s hip hop, its influence on society, cultural identity, and the music business.”
The program engages in powerful discussions, students participate in multiple projects and activities, and students get the opportunity to hear guest speakers who share their experiences in the music business, entrepreneurship, and social activism.
Prerequisites are not needed to take the course, but it eventually leads into the digital music production course of which GATHC is the first class of this three-course pathway.
Elkouby’s extensive background in entertainment and his love for hip hop makes him the perfect candidate to fill young minds with the information they need to pursue a career in the industry. In high school, he had dreams of making it as a rapper, DJ, and producer.
“Eventually, all while pursuing a music career, I fell into the music business and took on many roles throughout the 90’s and 2000’s working as a music journalist, publicist, creative consultant, and broadcaster,” he explained. “Much of my work was a freelancer, but it gave me the freedom to work with many hip hop legends as well as up and coming artists.”
In the early 90’s, he almost signed a recording contract, but is thankful that he didn’t go through with it once he had realized how “shady the deal was.”
Elkouby does not only set his students up with the necessary tools they need if they want to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. He said that his real goal is to use hip hop as a way to broaden his students’ social awareness and become media literate, informed, global citizens and content creators.
A few of his students have pursued entertainment careers, but he stressed that is not his only goal for them. Numerous former students have contacted him to share that the lessons learned in his class have carried them through the years, and that is what counts the most to him.
For more information on the Global Awareness Through Hip Hop Culture Program, visit: http://sebishiphop.com/the-global-awareness-through-hip-hop-culture-program/