PIGEONS AND PLANES -- Music has long been understood to have a medicinal quality for both the creator and the listener. But how exactly does that work? To better understand the effects of rap music as therapy, we spoke with music therapist and veteran educator Michele Schnur Ritholz, as well as Rob Jackson, co-founder of the hip-hop-focused therapy program Beats Rhymes and Life.
Jackson points out that hip-hop has a long history of healing: “The principles of hip-hop are rooted in giving voice to the oppressed and resisting oppressive systems, political advocacy, vibrant youth expression and raising public conscious and awareness. The ability to tell one’s story from a strength-based perspective, which allows youth to reframe the narrative that has been told to them or they often believe themselves, is critical to both healing and development.”
Rob Jackson is a hip-hop artist, educator and youth advocate. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University. With extensive background in the field of education and expertise in curriculum development, Jackson co-founded Beats Rhymes and Life in 2004 to serve the mental-health needs of youth of color. As chief of staff, he is responsible for staff development and ensuring program fidelity.