Work-in-progress at the culmination of Aaron's residency

On Friday, November 19, Aaron Jafferis and many of his students at the Brett School shared work they had created during Aaron's time here with the entire school community and other interested folks. Noel DeSousa, former principal of the Brett School, who was integral to making this residency possible, was able to attend. A big thank you to Noel as well as to current principal Rob Troon, and all the teachers and staff of the Brett School, for making this residency so successful. We are so grateful that they were willing to add to their already busy schedules to make this creative opportunity available to students. Reprinted below is a hip-hop poem Aaron created for the occasion. The talented and versatile Principal Troon provided a beatboxed rhythmic backdrop to Aaron's rhyming.

the unstoppable...

by Aaron Jafferis

we’re in the school cafeteria lunch period is nearly done we’re tryin to have a little fun five kids at one table one leg unstable unable to resist I put my fist down on the edge of the table and this leg hits the floor with a {boom} then my friend on the other end leans down and {boom} so then it’s {boom boom} {boom boom} {boom boom} and then my man slaps the table with his hand and so it’s {boom bap} {boom boom bap} {boom bap} {boom ba boom bap} and then the teacher comes over and says stop banging on the table and we say okay... and then it’s boom bap boom ba boom bap {boom bap boom ba boom bap}

Making something out of nothing, hip hop comes in thumping a thumb on a desk, bringing the funk back in to a city gone funk-less, and the rest is a history lesson of the best kind: you can test us with projects pressing minds to crack incarcerate us, invade us, but we always come back – pick over your scraps like a vulture, we flip-flop your culture, then like voltron...we put it together so it’s better than before. We turn war into floor battles of backspins on cardboard. We rap about things too hard for you to wrap your mind around. We serve up the verse as a rehearsal for revolution. So versatile, we saw the writing on the wall so now we’re –shhhh— writing on the wall!

We switch kick box to beat box without flinching at all. Take a Kung Fu movie, adopt it, like chop suey, adapt and remix it, so a kick-chop move becomes a hip hop groove. An MC is he or she who Moves Crowds. We free beats from their boxes and spit ‘em from our mouths so when he beatboxes, you can feel the rhythm pound deep in your body. Be free with sound. That’s the principle thing. When it comes to beatboxing, your principal is king. He started when he was your age, and his skills are still up. Hip hop keeps our will up. Erick Sermon fills up a track with Marvin Gaye in the back. We take it back to our ancestors, stack on the new answers, wrap the past in the present to make the future perfect. We serve it.

Hip hop can be copied, co-opted and chopped up but never stopped up. Like a nose, there’s no way to blow it but up. It’s the popular poetry of people. It’s still here, it’ll reach you next time you hear a car roll down the avenue with the back-seat bass shaking the few teeth you still have, first, get out of the street. Then put your head to the concrete and realize: this is not a new beat, but rather old as people. Maybe it’s drums taking people through trees. Maybe it’s a heartbeat pulling a man up from his knees. Maybe the beat’s back and forth are the footsteps of Harriet Tubman leading freed people north. Maybe the beat that you hear is the churning of gears on an age-old train – reborn, and taken the form of what seemed like a fad to you. Maybe hip hop isn’t bad for you. Maybe it’s the underground railroad thundering its precious load down the middle of the avenue.

Aaron's residency was funded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies, and was made possible with support of business sponsor Hidden Automotive, The Tamworth Foundation, the K. A. Brett School, and the Tamworth PTA.