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Ice-T's Rap School
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that in this reality series, rapper Ice-T teaches a group of seventh- and eighth-grade prep-schoolers how to sing, act, and dress like hip-hop stars. He encourages them to broaden their concept of rap culture, helping them see beyond their assumptions. Some scenes play up the kids' privileged background (for example, during a tour of the South Bronx, one student gets spray paint on his $300 jacket and makes a fuss about it being ruined), but there's really not much objectionable content here.
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What's the story?
In ICE-T'S RAP SCHOOL, the rapper and Law & Order: SVU star gives a group of seventh- and eighth-graders from York Prep -- an exclusive private school on Manhattan's wealthy Upper West Side -- a six-week crash course in rapping 101. In each episode, Ice-T teaches the kids the ins and outs of rhyming, dressing the part, walking with attitude, record scratching, and break dancing. Once their lessons are complete, the kids submit to nerve-wracking auditions and recording sessions -- all in an attempt to win a spot opening for Public Enemy. For the rapper, the lessons seem to be a way to teach a group of sheltered kids what hip-hop is all about. For the kids, learning to rap not only lets them express their feelings about issues like divorce, but also helps them overcome shyness and fears of public speaking.
Is it any good?
Many of the show's funniest scenes revolve around the rapper finding out just how clueless these kids are -- in one episode, he asks if anybody knows anything about rap and is met with silence. Other bits help drive home the series' real lessons, as when one student tells Ice-T that she's happy to wear "ghetto" earrings, and he asks her to really think about what she's saying when she uses the word "ghetto." All in all, although Ice-T's Rap School might seem like fluffy fare at first glance, it's really an intelligent reality show that tweens and their parents can watch together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stereotypes. Why is it important not to make snap judgments about people of other races, ethnicities, religions, sexuality, and so on? Where do these stereotypes and assumptions come from, anyway? How do media and pop culture enforce stereotypes? How do they help break them down? How can those who may not have had much interaction with people from other backgrounds learn about them?