Charlotte, N.C. — When the beat drops for these young men, it’s all about the music at the Hip Hop University.

“When you get it, your heart beats all fast and stuff. And you think you’re going to mess up, but you have to try your best not to mess up,” says Vegas Newport, who is a 7th grader enrolled in the Hip Hop University.

These students are not just learning how to rap– subjects like math, English, and history have all been remixed with hip-hop. But, instructors also discuss social issues and teach skills necessary for success in today’s world.

“We are focused on bringing up and building our community. North Carolina is known for its high drop-out rate, so we want to make sure that the students are really engaged in their education. And this is one of the ways that they can be involved in education without it being boring and it’s a non-traditional education for the students,” explains Albert Carter, who is a co-founder of the Hip Hop University.

The after school program meets twice a week with the goal of ensuring all students graduate from high school. Carter, who grew up in Philadelphia, understands some of the obstacles today’s youth must overcome.

“Hip Hop has saved my life. It’s gotten me out of a lot of situations with violence and crime.”

And since the program’s beginning, he and his team are on a personal mission to see his students win.

“We talk about similes, history, and our life and rapping… and sports. Just come—it’s a good thing. You learn more as you just keep coming and coming,” says 7th grader, Jamel Cassell.

The Hip Hop University is open to all children ages 12-17. It meets twice a week and the next session starts back up in January.

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