Xzavier Hansell – Schooling Through Hip Hop

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Xzavier Hansell will never forget the moment he got up on stage and had all the eyes in the school auditorium focused on him. He then remembers rapping his heart out and the audience lapping up every bit of his performance. At 14, Hansell is excelling as a rapper, using it as a way to tie issues such as global warming with the art of rapping. This has become possible for the teenager with encouragement from his mother who was 17 when Hansell was born and carefully curated playlists that included artists like Michael Jackson, Tupac and more. Hansell also has support from his teacher who supported Hansell’s participation in a science fair that was founded in New York where science intertwines with rapping i.e. scientific subjects are explored through the art of rapping.

Hansell was bullied because he looked different and behaved differently. He was born to Paris Hansell who moved to Ottawa and worked as a Reiki spa therapist, she then researched First Nation schools where she could send her son and that’s how he wound up in Toronto District School. Hansell is also an excellent basketball player. Rapping and basketball are his twin passions and his mother knows the kid has everything it takes to succeed. Both of Hansell’s parents have a musical background, while his mother used to sing hooks to rap recordings and his father is a salsa and soul musician in Vancouver.

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Hansell’s early infatuation with music was noted in school when Sharla Falodi, the teacher explored the idea of using hip hop as a form of learning about subjects in school, she thinks it’s a great way to connect kids with learning. Hansell was also fortunate to meet Joseph Harsco who is a hip hop enthusiast and now does weekly programs with Falodi’s class. He focuses on using hip hop, dancing, visual arts and such from the hip hop realm.

Chris Emdin is another hip hop enthusiast and a professor at Columbia University Teacher’s School. He introduced the Science Genius project which encourages kids to pen rap lyrics and use them to discuss their science projects. At the end of these sessions, Hansell performed at the Science Genius and won the competition.

The teachers are hoping this form of learning will help students tap into their musical abilities as well as connect with science at a deeper level.