Homework Boy

You Do That Homework Boy!

Homework Boy: A Collaborative Music Video Project 2009
By Jenna Frye, Chris Metzger, and Ysem Brown

Homework Boy was the first collaboration I did with two of my favorite Baltimore artists, Chris Metzger, professor of Digital Media and Design at Morgan State University, and Ph.D Candidate Ysem Brown, music and technology teacher and choral director for Govans Elementary. 

Me and the artists getting our nerd on. Photo by Chris Metzger.

Me and the artists getting our nerd on. Photo by Chris Metzger.

A rare sighting of Morgan State University Professor Chris Metzger in a photo. Photo by: Bethany Kennedy

A rare sighting of Morgan State University Professor Chris Metzger in a photo. Photo by: Bethany Kennedy

Together with students from all of our schools, MICA, Morgan and Govans, we set out to do something simple: make a music video parody of "Crank Dat Souljah Boy" and turn it into something more positive for the students at Govans to listen to. Ysem is kind of a musical genius and re-wrote the lyrics as well as dedicated tons of practice time in music class to get the students ready for their close ups ;-) 

Much of our work in preparing for the video took place over a day long Saturday workshop of fun, technology and pizza. We had a blast running around the empty school on the weekend! All of the students played critical roles in storyboarding, filming, acting in and editing the video, and we were all super excited about how awesome we did with our Homework :)  

Howard University Professor Craig Herndon and protege. Photo by: Chris Metzger

Howard University Professor Craig Herndon and protege. Photo by: Chris Metzger

As the three of us revisited the project after we finished the video, we began to understand the real value of the work (beyond the readily apparent cuteness factory) was the transformation that happened when the students saw themselves in the actual video as examples of the smart, funny, and positive people they are. It's our opinion that African American youth, particularly male youth, don't get as many chances to see positive media role models as I think any of us would like, and we want to teach the students how to frame media in a way that empowers them.  Becoming literate producers of media helps the students become literate consumers of media, and that is a larger goal that we as artists, educators, and citizens are concerned with.

Special thanks to MICA alumni Craig Herndon, Rassaan Hammond, and Jimmy Powell for their participation and mentornship.

Images from our workshop