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Lala Specific's goal is inspiration through hip hop
Educator and artist performs at BOOM Festival
 
Published Thursday, April 12, 2018 10:43 am
by Ashley Mahoney

PHOTO | DANIELLE OBIMAH
Lala Specific, a teacher at Harding University High School and hip hop artist, will perform at BOOM Festival in Plaza Midwood.

Lala Specific’s game is inspiration.


Her performance of “Black Lights” at Creative Mornings Charlotte’s April event at 10 Park Lanes last week personified her lyrics, “darkness can’t exist where there is light.”

“I started in Raleigh,” said Specific, a Selma, N.C., native. “It was a great experience to start there, because they are very embracive to hip hop. I started as a poet. Hip hop came along when someone challenged me to actually write a song, and everybody liked it. I continued to pursue my artistry, but I wanted to do something with the people in mind, uplifting people, and keep my content and my artistry as serene and uplifting as possible.”

Specific is a substitute teacher at Harding University High School, where she teaches 10th-grade math since earning a degree in African studies from UNC Charlotte.

“I decided I wanted to teach, and the first route that I’ve done is substitute teaching not for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, but for Beacon Initiative and Kelly Educational Staffing,” Specific said. “I’ve been long-term working for different Title I schools in the area.”

Beacon is a turnaround initiative through a CMS partnership with the University of Virginia, which has been implemented in 14 schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

“Between knowing that I love to inspire people through my music, and I also love to uplift kids, and I’m a big advocate for education reform,” Specific said. “If I can start in the schools helping the kids until we can get that reform, then that is my purpose. Between music and education, I kind of blend it together, and that is my life.”

A school like Harding has shown what it can do with limited resources, winning their first 4A state football title since 1953 last season, but a school without a booster club had to come up with roughly $20,000 to provide student-athletes with commemorative wear, such as championship rings. Such accomplishments reflect the potential of the school’s students, but it also exposes the challenges faced on the field and in the classroom.

“The biggest obstacle is actually that motivation piece, but how you go into it is stopping and listening,” Specific said. “My motto is, ‘when Lala Specific speaks, you listen,’ but actually listening to students and what they want and what their concerns are, and what they are actually going through can help you mold whatever my lesson plan is. If I know this student has a hard time with comprehension and reading, then I know they probably have a hard time comprehending certain situations in their life. If I can combine those two things together, and as a community come together and realize that teaching is not just teaching, 80 percent of it is counseling.”

Specific sees an increased community presence as a key step forward for students.

“It takes a village,” she said. “For each student, the more community we have involved, and the more people we have to invest in these children, the better success we will have with them continuing to grow and become that citizen that we want them to be.”

Specific’s role as an educator naturally combines with her creative sensibilities, including an upcoming performance at Charlotte’s annual fringe festival BOOM, in Plaza Midwood April 20-22. She will perform at the Intersection Stage at 8:45 p.m. on April 20.

“Every time I write something, I always think about what I can do to inspire somebody else,” she said. “As an artist, my main goal is inspiration and education. My goal is to put out music. I’m not really worried about making a whole bunch of money off of it. If it happens, then that’s great, but keeping in mind that my purpose in my music is to inspire and educate.”

While she intends to continue performing, Specific wants to help children explore opportunities in hip hop.

“Not just rapping,” she said. “They might be engineers or producers. I’m starting my own nonprofit called the Hip Opportunity Project, which actually teaches students how to be hip hopers. It also connects the dots between hip hop and academia. It helps them with that motivational piece.”

For more information about her upcoming BOOM performance: http://boomcharlotte.org/speakers/lala-specific-2018.

Comments

BEAUTIFUL PERFORMANCE
DONE EXTREMELY WELL, I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR MORE
Posted on April 13, 2018
 
Greatness !!!
Posted on April 13, 2018
 
Just beautiful
Posted on April 13, 2018
 

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