Gwen Pierce / The Chocolate Voice
Twenty-year old Austin Martin knows what it’s like feeling apathetic towards schoolwork. In a phone conversation with The Chocolate Voice, the graduate of San Diego’s Francis Parker High School, confidently tells us that although he considers himself a smart kid, he didn’t put forth much effort to improve his grades until the 9th grade.
He says that his lack of interest stemmed from the perception that creativity is valueless in schools. Currently an Ivy League student at Brown University, Martin is on a mission to change that perception in the academic system.
The creative light bulb went off for Martin as he was listening to hip-hop, and had the idea to develop Rhymes with Reason, an app designed to strengthen the vocabulary and English skills of today’s youth. Rhymes with Reason takes academic vocabulary words from the SAT’s, ACT’s and Common Core tests, and combines them with lyrics of hip-hop artists to create a culturally engaging curriculum.
The San Diego native, a self described creative brain, explains that his love of hip-hop is what inspired him to develop the app aimed at making learning interesting. Martin strongly feels that hip-hop is intellectually stimulating and is surprisingly filled with words that students might need to know for these standardized tests.
Majoring in Business Entrepreneurship in Organizations, with a minor in Education, Martin says that he listens to hip-hop regularly, and it is easy to identify the intricate vocabulary used by these artists.
During a google search, Martin found that aside from President Obama, hip-hop artists were some of the most visible and influential Black males in the media. With that knowledge he came up with the concept to use the lyrical brilliance and artistry of rappers to help creative minded students expand their vocabulary and increase comprehension on standardized testing.
As a young visionary, Martin has managed to add value to the education system by adding hip-hop as a tool to innovate the educational space. Martin says that Rhymes with Reason is the tool that can empower young, impressionable minds who look up to their favorite artists.
He says that he wants to change the stereotype of how the media sees Black males and students in underserved communities.
He often refers to his favorite rapper, music mogul, Sean Carter (Jay Z) who grew up in Brooklyn’s Marcy Housing Projects. Martin proudly mentions that Jay-Z has the most vocabulary words on the Rhymes with Reason app, primarily because of the hip-hop genius’ ingenuity combined with his extensive vocabulary in his music.
Martin explains that if kids listen to their favorite Rapper using complex words, it’s transformational. Rhymes with Reason is a medium which they can relate to.
“The world will see that it’s a misconception that rap music is widely known for participating in a violent culture. Rappers will become recognized by the brilliance of the art. Unfortunately, in our academic system hip-hop particularly with African Americans and Hispanics, is something that is very relevant to our culture and something that we enjoy. But, somehow we’re rarely rewarded for it. Utilizing the Rhymes with Reason App will get hip-hop connected to an academic box.”
The app features rhymes with definitions, descriptions and multiple choice questions that frame vocabulary in the context of hip-hop.
Martin says that the app is still in the testing phase but he’s been actively seeking and meeting with educators and investors to partner with to help fund the project.
For more information or to contact Austin, visit Rhymes with Reason.