In a change from the conventional term paper, two Kwantlen Polytechnic University students used rap music to reinterpret children’s literature for a third-year class project. The result was an eight-track album of rap songs called, “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of,” a music video and a written essay.
Calvin Tiu and Hanrick (Rick) Kumar delivered a final submission that, according to their Dr. Sue Ann Cairns, was alternately “playful, serious and poignant.”
“As I teach in a relatively traditional department, this customized multimodal project that would blend music, video and, of course, writing, was a new learning venture for me,” says Cairns, who gave the work top marks.
Tiu and Kumar’s project explored classics like Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Giving Tree and Charlotte’s Web, and contemporary young adult novels such as What I Saw, and How I Lied, Skim and Tweaked, the latter about drug addiction and set in Vancouver.
Their work has just been published in the University of Texas’s online journal, TheJUMP: The Journal for Undergraduate Multimedia Projects.
Tiu and Kumar, both 21, are already accomplished rappers who go by the names of Kalvonix and Big Love, respectively.
“We’re always looking for different ways to branch out and this was an opportunity to prove that rap doesn’t always have to be so negative,” says Tiu.
Adds Kumar: “One of the reasons we wanted to do this project was to give rap a new voice.”
Tiu has been rapping for nine years and has produced more than 20 solo albums using his own equipment. He performed for a crowd of 12,000 at the Yaletown Olympic venue during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and in Surrey at the Sapphire Gala in support of the Child Development Foundation of B.C.
Kumar has been a creative writer since childhood, making the transition into rapping in 2009. He has released one solo album and two collaborative pieces. He is also an avid writer of slam poetry and spoken word, some of which has been published in The Runner, KPU’s non-profit newspaper.
Together, the English majors recently created a seminar for high school and university students on the benefits of self-expression through rap, poetry and spoken word titled “Frontier Poetics.”