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HomeFeaturesMarcus Singleton is bringing hip-hop to the classroom

Marcus Singleton is bringing hip-hop to the classroom

Iomos Marad is the stage name of Marcus Singleton, 49. A rapper, educator and student; Singleton uses his interests and the environment he grew up in to learn and give back.

Singleton grew up in the southside Chicago neighbourhood of Englewood. Growing up he was surrounded drugs and violence that plagued his community. One of the outlets of Black communities going through troubled times in the 1970s and ’80s was rap music.

Singleton’s introduction to hip-hop started with a community-positive, conscious style of music. The first acts he found interest in were Jungle Brothers and KRS-One. Their themes of education and Black empowerment played a part in him furthering his knowledge.

He incorporated similar themes into his music when he started rapping. Singleton had a home influence to his rap as well. His mother gave him different ideas such as rapping without cursing and playing drums while rapping to stand out from others.

In the 1990s, the rise of gangsta rap was becoming a profitable road to success in the genre. Despite the chance at more money and fame, he kept to the less profitable community-oriented style that lost its shine from the previous decade.

“My message, to me, is more important than making profit… if the money comes the money comes but I’m not going to chase it by compromising my beliefs.”

He released his first single in 2000 and his first album in 2003.

He was taking notes of his early music influences before he picked up the books at school.

“I would literally go to shows with a notebook and a pencil, while other people were being a fan of the music, I was being a student.”

His journey through education started when he spoke to kids at the Lawndale Christian Health Center in Chicago. There he realized his ability to work with youth. Recommendations to become a teacher and a desire to have a degree took him to Minnesota.

In Minnesota he started working with kids after school where he spoke to youth about hip hop. A connection he made there led to an opportunity to apply to Metropolitan State University. He earned his undergrad in Urban Teaching.

After moving back to Chicago, he met his wife online. She was from Canada and she recommended the Social Justice Education program at University of Toronto. He earned his masters and is currently pursuing his PhD at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.

His goals consist of possibly being a professor and in some capacity helping kids in the cities of Toronto, Chicago and Detroit.

Most importantly, he connects all aspects of the knowledge he has accumulated over the years from the stage to the lecture hall. In the classroom, he uses hip hop in his teaching.

“The definition of hip-hop that I use is hip means to know and hop means to move or rise up so the more you become aware, the more you become hip to your surroundings … the more you want to move into action to create change.”