“Remixing our reality through hip hop education.”

Project Inspiration:

“Hip hop is expression… our roots and culture… it’s your duty to contribute uniqueness to this artform. Desire of bringing something new, improved, witty, and soul touching. I wanted my intelligence to be heard in my lyrics… I wanted the pain to be felt… and the happiness I encountered. Being an MC takes originality, style, imagination, delivery, intelligence and presence.”

-Prince Po

Mission Statement:

Lyripeutics is committed to centering youth voices through this transgenerational project to provide hip hop as a vehicle for education of self and the world as well as a tool for promoting wellness for communities and individuals. We believe that through hip hop, our communities can begin to heal and utilize the facets of the culture to raise our consciousness that will begin the conversation of radically transforming what education looks like.





Vision Statement:

Lyripeutics is invested in providing different avenues to learning through introductions to hip hop elements. The vision of this project is to influence members of the community to find place and space in education within the context of hip hop. Lyripeutics is committed to providing a different lens of learning that invigorates the youth using their own vernacular, and social standing.


Use the tools of hip hop (i.e. body poetics, DJ-ing, spoken word, mc-ing, rapping, visual artistry, knowledge, etc.) to create a democratic narrative around what education should look like.


Kalonji Nzinga


Kalonji Nzinga is a cultural psychologist and teaching artist exploring how millennials develop their ethical worldviews through cultural practice. My research is about hip-hop music, a set of folk narratives, rhythms, and literature that sprouted from the hood.  In particular, I study how the language arts of hip-hop help orient people towards higher values, and ground them in transformative cultural practices.  I am interested in the philosophical inquiry that happens within hip-hop literature, and how it inspires young people to seek authenticity, cultivate compassion and engage in healing justice.  I design learning environments that use hip-hop as a tool for consciousness building, cultural preservation and healing.

My influences that directly influence my frame of reference for this project are:

Lauryn Hill | Nipsey Hussle | Kiese Laymon | Arundhati Roy | Malcolm X | Gandhi | Rumi | Gil Scott Heron | J Cole | Erykah Badu | Thich Nhat Hanh



Karia White

Karia White is an organizer and activist, from New Jersey, and is based out of the Boulder and Denver, Colorado area. She is one of seven children and is affectionately dubbed “moo-moo”, “little Angela Davis” and “ladybug” by her family. Her cultivated family is much bigger, and she is constantly adding siblings to her circle. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado– Boulder double majoring in International Affairs and French, as well as pursuing two minors in Ethnic Studies and Political Science. Karia is also a poet/writer/ spoken word artist and is in constant dialogue with how we bridge the worlds deemed as separate, together to create a more cohesive community.

Karia’s forms of activism in the community critically engages with how community building and social justice work overlap in meaningful and historical ways. She is passionate about breaking the traditional ways of thinking of education and working towards a radical transformative curriculum that allows for all individuals to feel like they have a place and space to actualize their greater potential in education. Hip Hop has been an invaluable tool to confront the realities that she has lived with and has given her the assets to talk back to the systems that she interacts with.

Hip Hop is indicative of what true education should look like. Remixing and recycling our history to provide frameworks for thinking about our societies and workshopping ways to come up with solutions. Hip Hop allows us to raise our consciousness through presentations of the problems and it is up to the community to engage with those tools to challenge the systems we seek to change.

Karia is very passionate about youth activism and is committed to centering youth voices through this transgenerational project. When Black and Brown voices and especially youth voices are acknowledged to matter in the conversation, we are already confronting what we have been conditioned to believe is the opposite. She is looking forward to being on this project with other talented and involved leaders in the community.

Her influences that directly influence her frame of reference for this project are:

Jermaine Lamarr Cole & Dreamville | Talib Kweli | Tupac Amaru Shakur | KRS- One  | Kendrick Lamar Duckworth |Reiland Rabaka | Angela Davis | Audre Lorde | Bell Hooks| Paulo Fraire

Be easy,



Alexander Williams

Alexander Williams is a writer, musician, and activist from California, but now based in the Boulder area. He is currently a Master’s candidate in Literature and a member of the Engaged Arts and Humanities Scholars cohort at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His poetry and scholarship, heavily rooted in hauntology and trauma theory, explores the persona created by the Black male rapper in the United States. Through his art, Alexander hopes to rewrite future histories and demonstrate the prophetic connection between life and literature.

Alexander employs a scholarly and interpersonal approach to his community work: using his position with the RAP Lab and the Engaged Arts and Humanities Scholars, he seeks to foster emotional intelligence and social awareness in K-12 students through hip-hop and poetic learning modules. Through his own experience with the rapper persona, Alexander is committed to doing community work with underprivileged children of color centering around establishing their own artistic personas to test American social, cultural, and artistic boundaries. At its core, hip-hop is inclusive, revolutionary, and democratic: its four distinct elements invite the unwelcomed and the disadvantaged to use its power to cement dynamic legacies and histories.

Hip-hop is inherently educational: the stories painted from graffiti, turntables, dancing, and rapping reflect realities hundreds of years in the making. Hip-hop’s ability to remix and recycle music, art, and dancing should be a reflection of the adaptability a 21st century education demands. Through hip-hop’s reparative and prophetic elements, we can find solace and inspiration to undo the trauma and injustices plaguing our world. Alexander is very passionate about the reparative power of literature and empowering marginalized people to find their voice through hip-hop. By granting forgotten children the chance to speak their truth, hip-hop provides solace and a musical gateway to undo the trauma of their realities.

His influences that directly influence his frame of reference for this project are:

Childish Gambino | Fred Moten | Christina Sharpe | Chance the Rapper | Adam Bradley | Katherine McKittrick | Nas | Cedric J. Robinson | W.E.B. Du Bois | Frederick Douglass



Shawn Trenell O’Neal

Shawn Trenell O’Neal is currently a Doctoral Candidate and Teacher’s Assistant in the Critical/Comparative Ethnic Studies Department at University of Colorado Boulder. My various emphases of study are race, critical race theory, musicology, women of color feminisms, black queer studies, and queer of color critique. I have previously taught African American history, Global Media, Intro. to Ethnic Studies, Intro. to Hip Hop Studies, and Critical Sports Studies. My present focus of writing consists of the challenging and interrogation of Eurocentric epistemologies, as well as analyzing the racialization, sexualization, and gendering of music.

As a young boy of African descent, I was raised on the eclectic sounds of Motown, funk, and the varieties of R&B musics. My interest in record collecting began in Chicago during the nineteen eighties. Obscure performers and record imprints, in concert with my genealogy surrounding global musics of artists of African descent, presented the possibilities of experimental sound explorations.

After relocating to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1995, I explored the world of Djing at a time when vinyl records were the only salient medium in which to do so. My role as one of the founding members of Highmayhem Emerging Arts (www.highmayhem.org) resulted in projects Djing with various jazz and classical ensembles as well as traveling and Djing all over the U.S. and Europe, as well as developing an appreciation for the usage of analogue and digital hardware for sound explorations.

Initiating my craft as a battle Dj, I was able to hone my skills to be able to properly mix genres ranging from R&B and funk, hip hop, house, and the various post-punk varieties, while executing my mixes on record or computer. I am pleased to say that I was one of the few Djs who could see beyond the conventions of merely playing dance music. I am also one of few artists that have not pigeonholed myself into playing strictly one style or genre.

Michael Acuna

Michael Acuna is an artist that utilizes creativity to engage restorative justice, social equality and mental health through poetry, music, and creative workshops. He has partnered with The Office of the independent monitor, Youth On record and local organizations facilitating conversations around Implicit bias, ingenious, and immigrant rights as well as identity.

Michael is one of three co-founders of Tribal Zyphers a program that teaches youth the culture of hip-hop as a rite of passage. The artist ILL Se7en aka Acuna Black is an accomplished artist that has traveled and toured internationally with legends like the Roots, Mos Def, Zion I and Dead Prez. Michael has received several accolades for his passion to reform a broken system. In 2018 Michael received a Master Mind Award from the Denver Westword and redline art gallery. He’s also received an MBK 25 award from the My brother keeper initiative founded by President Obama in 2014. In early 2019 ILL was invited to be a Ted-X Speaker on Implicit bias and adolescent development. ILL Se7en is currently consulting and speaking on the importance to push forward the narrative of Implicit bias, utilizing art as a platform of change.


Arturo Aldama

Dr. Arturo Aldama has been teaching spoken word classes and doing university sponsored and community workshops on spoken word since the 1990s. Aldama’s approach to spoken word is grounded in the Mexica/ Mesoamerican (pre-conquest) practices of xochi-cuicatl, flower and song, where poetry was considered a way to communicate truths to the universe and poetic expression was deeply valued in indigenous civilization. Aldama also grounds spoken word aesthetics and politics in Latinx poetic traditions, specifically Xicana, Xicanx and Boricua, Afro-Latinx. Aldama is committed to providing youth a way to learn to honor their creative truths and their/our hetero-glossic voices. Aldama uses spoken  word workshops as a way to decolonize one’s mind, feelings and ways of being. Decolonial spoken word has the potential to disrupt the trauma and violence(s) of criminalization, racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and to create communities of decolonial truth and resistance.



Marlene Palomar


Marlene Sulema Palomar is currently a Doctoral Student and a Research Assistant in the school of Education Learning Sciences and Human Development program at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is interested in the use of Cariño & wellness in education among a few others. Marlene recently received her Masters degree in counseling from the University of Colorado Denver. Before becoming a doctoral student she was a couple and family therapist, specifically doing in-home visits for caregiver-child with specific needs including learning skills for positive parenting, healthy nutrition and Feeding practices, communication skills between family members, addressing depression, anxiety, past trauma, and reading baby’s cues. Her present focus of writing consists of using Spanglish, autoethnography, poetry, music, and dichos/ consejos.

Marlene grew up in Montbello, Colorado. She is a first generation child of Mexican parents raised on classic rock, Regional Mexican, Latinx music like cumbias, bachata, reggaeton, salsa, Rap and Hip Hop in both English and Spanish, and whatever was playing on MTV and the radio. Her family puts a huge emphasis on music, there are several musicians and singers in her family. Growing seeing and hearing her family members playing at every get together her love for music grew. She joined the orchestra as a first row violinist for all of middle school and high school. In high school she eventually picked up the guitar and joined the recording studio class where she produced a few songs.

Hip Hop has influenced a lot of the music that Marlene also loves. It has had an impact on her life as well as the lives of many others. She believes that music is healing, it is how our community expresses emotion, shares stories, and connects through centuries, generations, and human made borders. Marlene is passionate about designing learning environments centered around genuine cariño & wellness for the children, youth, caregivers, and community. Marlene believes that learning and healing can be accessed through the tools that one already has, such as music, food, and dichos.

Her influences that directly influence her frame of reference for this project are:

Vicente Garcia  | Sabino  |  J Cole  | Kendrick Lamar  |  Miguel Y Miguel  | Led Zeppelin  | Bad Bunny  |  Calle-13/ Residente  |  Gloria Anzaldua  |  Bell Hooks  | Dr. Reiland Rabaka  | Dr.  Melody Brown  |  Dr. Emma Perez

Con cariño,




Assétou Xango


Assétou Xango (Ah-say-too SEAN-go), also known as the Dark Goddess Poet, uses Spoken Word to dismantle the harmful, colonial binaries that bind us.

As a black, pansexual, polyamorous, genderqueer, womxn. They exist as the in-between, the darkness that serves as the mirror to our shadow selves. Xango’s  other-world guides us to accept the parts of ourselves that have been deemed irredeemable.

Assetou Xango is a poet and community activist born and raised in Colorado. They have been writing since they were in 8th grade. As a teenager, they were featured on HBO’s Brave New Voices in 2010 and is a two-time TEDxMileHigh Speaker. They have represented Denver, CO in competitions across the nation, was featured in Westword’s Top 100 Creatives and published in Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s literary journal entitled “Glyph.”

Xango is currently the Poet Laureate of Aurora, Colorado (2017-2021) and runs their own coaching business helping Black Femmes heal their unworthy stories and live the life they desire. Most recently, Xango is a part of the 2020 Poet Laureate Fellowship under the Academy of American Poets. In all of their work, Xango is dedicated to the visibility and rights of womxn and gender non-conforming people of color and promoting the use of storytelling to dismantle binaries and divisions.

Arianna Baharmast

Arianna Baharmast is a Musician, creator and artist from Boulder, CO. She is in her final-year of undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She currently studies Neuroscience and holds a minor in Music. Recently, she has joined in collaboration with the brilliant minds of the Ritual Arts and Pedagogy lab as a Research Assistant and in the classroom at North High School. Understanding storytelling and how to articulate her emotions alongside incredible writers and musicians on campus is something of upmost importance to her as she believes it has challenged her to reframe her own thinking as a creator.

She was formally on the board for the Persian student association at CU Boulder until last year and helped organize and put on Cultural events for the community.


Lyripeutics Copyright © by Lyripeutics Storytelling Project. All Rights Reserved.

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