Bushido Garvey
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Bushido Garvey

Rochester, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2010

Rochester, NY
Established on Jan, 2010
Solo Hip Hop Spoken Word




"How Hip-Hop Builds Bridges to Students"

Lately, language has been on my mind a lot (as evidenced by my last few blog posts). As I seek to understand the complexities of language use and the exchange of words that comes with that, I see clearly that, for me, Hip-Hop has played a major role in fostering my poetic passion. From EPMD’s “Strictly Business” and KRS-1’s “Criminal Minded” to Nas’ “Illmatic” and Common’s “Like Water for Chocolate,” Hip-Hop has been a vehicle for the expression of many of my experiences and the experiences of my community. This still holds true for today’s generation.

Hip-Hop, created in the late 1970’s in the Bronx by Black and Brown teenagers/young adults, has become a worldwide phenomenon that transcends culture, gender, and religion. I see it everyday when, for example, my Punjabi and Muslim students come to class bumpin’ 21 Savage and Future, knowing all the words and the accompanying dances! As a new teacher to my current school building, Hip-Hop has created an avenue for authentic relationship-building between my students and me. It’s a great equalizer.

This bridge-building via Hip-Hop is taking place everyday in classrooms across the U.S. Just last week, a colleague of mine in Maine, Dan Ryder, had a breakthrough with a student by simply asking him to create a playlist of Hip-Hop music that he (the student) listens to. The student was so shocked by his teacher’s request that he quickly obliged. Now, according to Dan, he stops by his classroom just to say “hi.” That is a major breakthrough and an inroad to heightened communication between student and teacher.

Educator, writer, and activist Dr. Christopher Emdin has, among other venues, created a well-respected and well-attended weekly Twitter chat on Tuesday nights at 9:00pm that I attend faithfully with the trending hashtag #HipHopEd, specifically designed for the purpose of valuing Hip-Hop as a powerful educational tool.

Another colleague of mine, Brandon Bushido Garvey White, a teacher in Rochester, NY, just released his first album last month where he spits bars of fire on tracks that feature little-known instrumental samples and interludes of authentic classroom dialogue between him and his students. After listening to his album on Sunday morning, I reached out to Brandon because I was just so in awe of my friend’s talent. (I had no idea he rapped or produced an album called “Our Battle Rap”!) We talked openly and honestly about Hip-Hop use in the classroom by all teachers. When I asked him the essential question of how he’s using Hip-Hop/rap in his classroom, he provided such accessible strategies for incorporating Hip-Hop into the classroom that I just had to share.

Brandon frequently uses Hip-Hop for summative assessments like unit projects. Rap creation is often an assignment option used to integrate new vocabulary. For example, free styling, a.k.a. rapidly-improvised rapping, can also be used by instructors to model new vocabulary words.

Asking students to suggest rap songs that topically coordinate with current themes, skills and texts in the curriculum can be used as a critical discussion piece to connect with the curricular work, and is often framed to practice multiple-choice test taking strategies. Rap songs/ Hip Hop cultural references are frequently used to provide further explanation via analogies, comparisons, etc.

Hip-Hop norms such as call and response can be used throughout classroom pedagogy in all content areas, on all grade-levels. I don’t know of many other instructional tools in education that can boast such prowess. I feel like I’m going to be writing about language use a lot more. I would love to hear how you use Hip-Hop in your classroom. New York School (doesn’t just) Talk — we listen, too!

What do you think? - Vivett Dukes

"Urban Education Reform: The Perfect Storm"

Warm-Up Question: Who is the most valuable stakeholder in urban education reform? Comment below this blog with your answer.

The right people must be in key positions in order for any systematic change to occur. It’s a perfect storm when such individuals start moving collectively, and a perfect storm is the only way to usher in urban education reform. First, the schools have to get bad enough to prompt media coverage. Secondly, the right press members have to cover the story so that the right people pay attention–those who will actually do something. Many have been praying for such a perfect storm in Rochester, and it seems that God has heard our cries. Steps one and two happened and then a bunch of folks, known as “The Community Task Force” came together to put the work in.

Brandon White is one such person. He is a student of chess and so I’ll mix metaphors to describe him: he’s a bishop. He can make swooping moves that change the impact of the game; (i.e. his open letter to the RTA), but his capture would weaken his team’s strategy and so he moves with caution. He often closes his eyes tight when he speaks, as if he’s trying to picture the exact words he wants to say. He’s a teacher and therefore automatically a member of the Rochester Teacher Association, one of the most revered and reviled unions in the state. He’s a Rochester City School District graduate and native Rochesterian, and son of the school board president, so there are many loyalties to navigate and exploit. He’s a husband, hip-hop head, emcee, (“Black teachers have schooled the earth since the dawn of time/To stop the thieves in the night, spark the Dawn of Minds/”), unapologetically Black, and follower of the most high God.

Brandon is in the trenches (I’m mixing metaphors again); an advocate and practitioner of restorative justice and culturally enriched curriculum. His own words will give you the best understanding of his very important role in this work. Read the following snippet from his “Open Letter to RCSD Teachers Regarding Contract: Voting “No” Tomorrow for Students”:

Hello Fellow Panthers and Teachers,

As you all know, tomorrow we are to vote on whether or not we approve of the newly drafted RTA contract. What I am about to say isn’t a condemnation of the union that is fighting to increase my pay and bring stability to my school schedule by defining the length of the school day, establishing common planning time, and promoting early student release for teacher meetings. These are all things that I would obviously want as an educator and appreciate as a union member. However, it is also my responsibility as a union member to voice with a corrective love things that startle me. There is a clause in our contract that states the following:

Crimes committed in schools will be pursued as crimes committed elsewhere, to the extent the District has the right to press charges for those crime. In all other events, the District will fully support the teacher who chooses to press charges on his/her own behalf.

We all know how wild some students can be, but we also can’t ignore the fact that the vague nature of this teacher contract clause can be easily abused by professionals. I say that for anecdotal and statistical reasons. I was at a dinner seminar where an educator’s response to the suggestion that pre-K-4th graders shouldn’t being arrested for assault was “a crime is a crime, and those students should get the same punishment as they would if they did it in the streets.” This man’s statement about criminalizing elementary kids for wrong doing was met with considerable applause….

For more of Brandon’s writing, click here http://bushidogarvey.com/

Banke Awopetu McCullough

ALWAYS WANT MORE - Banke Awopetu, Conrete Rose Publications

"Partying at Richmond’s for CHESS, RHYMES and WISDOM"

Chess in the city schools is growing. I’ve written a lot about the success of the Wilson team Another RCSD success story. states-2-580x326And also the popularity of the sport throughout the RCSD. City schools shine And this year Tom Pappas is organizing a new team at Monroe. And at Douglass, chess is being taken to a whole new level.

I was thrilled be to invited by my friend Brandon White, an English teacher who helps facilitate the new Restorative Practices program at Douglass, to Richmond’s on Friday for The People’s Party.

There, the people will be partying to raise money for Brandon’s afterschool club CHESS, RHYMES, AND WISDOM at Northeast-Northwest High School. Fellow Northwest English teacher Reginald Houston (who some know as a Section V and College Basketball and Soccer referee) is integral to the success and organization of the club. The Benefit will raise funds for recording equipment to be kept at the Douglass Campus.

For several years now, Brandon and his students have gathered for a truly unique after school experience. Now with ambitions raised, the can’t-miss People’s Party.

Brandon describes his innovative program:

The CHESS, RHYMES, AND WISDOM program engages students in critical thought through artistic expression by blending chess playing with rap, poetry, and spoken word creations. In CHESS, RHYMES, AND WISDOM young scholars develop their artistic voices, intellectual expression, self-actualization and character.

On the chess side, students learn basic and intermediate strategy, experimenting against each other and online. On the artistic side, students in the club learn appropriate uses of literary devices to enhance their poetry and rap. They are also taught freestyle (improvised rap) techniques, and even record their own music. The more they participate, the more the self-actualization process truly gains momentum. Each year, we look forward to expanding opportunities, ultimately leading to intellectual and character growth.

At Chess, Rhymes and Wisdom (Fredrick Douglass Campus) Left to right: Maurice Glenn, Josiah Tavolino, Dontrael Parson, Isaac Roman; Reginald Houston, standing

Intriguing to say the least. Enough said. Come to Richmond’s on Friday for the full experience.

Contact Brandon at Brandon.White@rcsdk12.org

Chess Rhymes and Wisdom Music Link: chessrhymes-wisdom/sets/across-the-board-mixtape-vol-1

I will be rooting for the Panthers this season. But in my heart I am always a Brighton Baron.

Thanks again Brandon for contributing. We always need contributors to keep Talker thriving. - David Kramer, Talker of the Town

"Connections at the LIttle: Degrees of Diversity"

It's a special broadcast live from the Little Theatre. We're capping our week-long series exploring the lack of diversity on local teaching staffs.

Our guests are a combination of teachers, administrators, parents, and school board members. Our live audience members bring their own questions based on our reporting and research. The guests:

Brandon White, teacher on assignment for restorative practices at Northwest Junior & Northeast Senior High Schools at the Douglass Campus
Kevin McGowan, superintendent of the Brighton Central School District
Lesli Myers, superintendent of the Brockport Central School District
Jeff Crane, superintendent of West Irondequoit Central School District - Evan Dawson, WXXI

"StereoFox Song Review- "Rise" (prod. by illycut)"

Hello from sunny Thailand! I must say - being out of the writing schedule made me miss this so, so much. Really happy to share a new tune with you. This one is quite the find.

The heroes of the day are illSB who I stumbled upon last October. The L.A. production duo comprised of illYcut and Bastian dropped an awesomely soulful beat titled "Need You" and it was enough proof that we're onto something.

Now the guys are back with a fresh new collab featuring New York-based Emcee Bushido Garvey. The beat is a beautiful homage to soul and gospel sound, those vocals in the background are the perfect stage for Bushido's cut-through rhymes. "Rise" = a stream of superb and extremely energizing sounds. - StereoFox


Groceries (2010)
Unprofitable Servants 
Nugzky Garvey 
Our Battle Raps 
Random New Raps: Season One (2017)
The Carl Lukas Quicktape: A Ten Minute Ode (February 2018)

Thirty Rock (Summer 2018)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Bushido Garvey is a moniker for Brandon White, a pro-black kid obsessed with martial arts films that turned into an adult educator. The emcee stage name still represents many of my concerns, values, and passions. I'm an emcee, traditional poet and former classroom educator that writes curriculum for a non-profit, releases projects, and does freelance writing in his music communities. Since it was hip-hop that made education relevant to me as an adolescent student, I plant hip-hop sensibilities in education, and education sensibilities in hip-hop, while avoiding preachyness like the plague.

Band Members