Rap music, in spite of the controversy that often surrounds it, can have a positive influence on listeners and expand their consciousness and musical horizons. Hip Hop Architecture Camps, hosted in multiple cities across the U.S., introduces kids to architecture using a medium they love – hip hop. Founded by Detroit-born architectural designer, Michael Ford, the camps empower young kids to become champions of sustainability within their communities.

The camps, funded by Autodesk, use legendary tracks like Nas’ 2002 classic “I Can” to teach kids how to reimagine their cities using rhythm and rhyme.

Each camp happens over three weeks and in three stages. First, campers learn hip hop history – which explores lyrics, culture, spaces and places. The second phase introduces campers to architecture and urban planning as they create their own versions of hip hop architecture. Here, the kids learn using traditional hand-drawing techniques as well as hands-on model making and 3D computer modelling. By combining architectural lessons with hip hop, young attendees are able to understand the connection between music, space and community. 

Creating spaces for and by the community matters. Using hip-hop as a connector, narrative, and frame of reference can get more people, especially people of colour, engaged in shaping and designing their environments – a form of self-empowerment that seems perfectly aligned with the genre’s message.

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