This October, the documentary film “A Lovely Day,” about the partnership of the 5th Element Oakland High School Hip Hop Club with the rap therapy organization Beats,
Rhymes and Life (BRL), premiered to a sold-out crowd at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater. The film shows “the trials, tribulations and achievements of a group of Oakland youth,” according to the film’s press release.
Since 1999, students from Oakland High have joined this club to record music, dance and DJ. Resource teacher Payton Carter, the 5th Element faculty advisor since 1999, said he started this club as a spur-of-the-moment decision.
“I would watch them practice every now and again,“ Carter said. “And eventually, they asked me to be the coach.“
5th Element has had many accomplishments. One of them was being featured in The Source, a famous hip hop magazine. The article talks about the club members’ rise from being hallway dancers to famous magazine features.
BRL linked up with 5th Element in 2007 but is not currently active at Oakland High. According to Carter there are hopes of BRL returning in 2013.
Students join this club to gain and perfect different skills, according to Carter. They practice Tuesdays and Thursdays. On these days, they have the option of going to the studio to write and record music, or going to the 5th Element dance class. Carter also offers all of the students DJing lessons.
Dajeh Fowler, a freshman at Oakland High and a member of the 5th Element dance group, said, “I personally like the dancing.” She added that she likes the pop and hip-hop dancing they do and the way everyone is friends.
The 5th Element have an upcoming performance at Oakland High in the Project Kai Talent Show.
This club is a learning experience and a productive way to spend time if music is something you are interested in. Even if you don’t like music you can dance or even DJ. This club is 13 years old and are only getting better.
According to BRL’s website, brl-inc.org, youth that participated in this program in 2004 showed gains in self-esteem, social skills, and stress management. Eight years later they’re still setting standards in the emerging field of hip-hop therapy.
So come on Wildcats, let’s raise the roof and support Oakland High’s future MC’s!
Dec. 7, 2012: This article has been corrected from an earlier version.