Young people looking to channel their inner creative voice will have an outlet through the ‘We Are R.A.P’ hip-hop education program taking place every Saturday in July at the Blue Ridge location of the Mid-Continent Public Library.

We Are R.A.P, is a hip-hop education workshop for elementary, middle, and high school youths that are interested in making hip-hop music, learning about music production, or simply creative writing or performing. The program is designed as four workshops that will combine creative writing, rhyming, and spoken word coaching with hands-on recording techniques, music programming, and discussion about entrepreneurial pathways and careers in the music industry.

The workshop is designed and instructed by Royce “Sauce” Handy and Kartez Addison, two Kansas City musicians and producers. The two started the We Are Rap organization in 2017 as an after school program to help curb participation in criminal acts by young people in the community.  They felt the program would offer a beneficial alternative for young people who weren’t interested in traditional after school music programs or sports. 

“The idea was to get a program into local schools that took something that students would be interested in doing, and creating a positive space where they could have something they could do to increase creativity,” Handy said.

The first workshop, scheduled for this weekend, will be a virtual introduction where the students and instructors can meet and explore the beginning steps of the creative process. The following three weeks, participants will meet face to face at the Blue Ridge Community Room, where a mobile studio will be set up for the students to practice and record their work. The goal is for students to continue to build week to week so that the finished product is a self-produced piece of work.

“We want them to take home something they’re proud of,” Handy said. 

Handy explained for many young people hip hop is a form of self-expression and exploring it is an important skill for young people to build, especially in the Black community.

“It’s something that can help give a voice to the youth in our community and teach them about our culture,” Handy said. “That rap and hip hop is a part of our culture, it’s expressing yourself.”

The program is sponsored by the Mid-Continent Public Library as a part of their summer writing program. The first workshop will be a virtual event this Saturday, June 9, from 1 – 1:30 p.m. The following workshops will be the remaining Saturdays in July from 1 – 5 p.m. The program is free to any youth interested but registration is required.

The goal isn’t to create the next great rapper, according to Handy. It’s to teach and provide a creative outlet for youth in the community.

“We’re here whether they want to pursue a career in music or learn about making music, or if they just want to do something different this summer,” Handy said.