The X in “XFactor” pays homage to the personage and legacy of Malcolm X, while invoking the idea of the “unknown variable”. The goal of the curricular album is to invite the listener to discover what that variable is in reference to Hip-Hop.
1/06/2015 (BERKELEY, CA) – U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Davis Law School alumnus, Moorish Hip-Hop artist and educator, Professor A.L.I. has shifted the paradigm of how music can be used in the high school classroom. His “XFactor” double length album is integrated as part of a unique Hip-Hop history curriculum offered this spring at The Athenian School in Danville, College Preparatory School in Oakland., The Urban School and Lick Wilmerding in San Francisco, and Marin Academy and the course is being offered for U.C. approved history credit.
Professor A.L.I. states the idea of merging Hip-Hop and Education to enhance curriculum was born in his mind in a Native American Law class offered at U.C. Davis and taught by Professor Arturo Gandara. He stated that while at U.C. Davis, “Professor Gandara would allow me to submit verses or raps instead of essays for my weekly reflections based on our case readings. He would offer feedback and appreciated the level of depth of my lyrics and often asked me to open class by rapping—which added so much depth to our overall discussion.”
The “Xfactor” album delves into Hip-Hop’s history and discusses its future and does not shy away from sensitive topics like misogyny, racism and homophobia, instead Professor A.L.I. tackles them head-on—showcasing a profound understanding for the role played by Hip-Hop and using it as a lens to initiate this study.
The course is unique, in that it teaches history from a thematic perspective, weaving in the expanse of oral histories in West Africa, the Middle Passage, the Abolitionist Movement, The Jim Crow South, The Civil Rights Movement, Colonialism/Post-Colonial realities and modern day social dynamics in the urban community. Hip-Hop in essence becomes the thread by which all these historical events are studied and students are invited to respond to the units by writing and recording their own raps to the same instrumentals that Professor A.L.I. uses in the “XFactor.”
“Nothing like it is out there—believe me, I’ve looked. While academics have written Hip-Hop pedagogies, and there are courses offered at the University level, no one has thought about bringing it to this type of education to the high school level nor offering it as a robust curriculum at that. While some innovative unit plans exist that weave in Hip-Hop in literature curricula, never before has an instructor stepped so firmly into the space of authenticity that Hip-Hop itself demands and record an album in order to advance the curricular and pedagogical objectives of a course—and this is why I was so inspired to be the first,” stated Professor A.L.I. anticipating this January 6th, album release date.
An example of the fiery lyrical content can be taken from the eponymous track “XFactor”, which takes a jab at the controversial cover image choices made by Nicki Minaj last year that was disrespectful to the personage and legacy of Malcolm X. The Professor then takes us through a truly eXistential view of history while explaining who Malcolm was to Hip-Hop, “He’s placenta to Hip-Hop’s birth, so discarded, yet his knowledge provided nutrition for these artists.”
The album features guest vocals from long standing Professor A.L.I. collaborators in Raekwon of the Wu Tang Clan, Planet Asia, Blitz the Ambassador, Sadat X of Brand Nubian, Dead Prez, and Canibus and as well includes, in two parts as interludes, a never before heard, full length interview conducted by Professor A.L.I. with his late friend Malcolm Shabazz before he was murdered in Mexico City in 2013.