GZA – Science Genius 12.12.12 Speech Lyrics

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Teachers College, Columbia University
12/12/12

Thank you for your introduction, Chris. Thank you David, Helen, Daniel, Ridhi and John for coming to support our effort. And thank you everyone, for coming. My name is GZA from The Wu Tang Clan. It is an honor to be here at Teachers College to discuss Science Genius. Particularly on 12/12/12. Since 2001, I have done something to commemorate the triple number date. But I can't think of a better way to culminate the tradition than to be here with all of you to talk about this program

Most people associate Wu Tang with Staten Island but I was born in Brooklyn and lived in almost every borough by the time I was ten. I left high school in the tenth grade and it's one of my greatest regrets in life. I am here--not as a teacher, nor expert, nor genius--but rather as a science enthusiast who wants to inspire New York City public high school students to get excited about biology, chemistry and physics. I wish there had been a more compelling way to captivate my imagination about science when I was in school

The interaction between matter and energy has always aroused my interest and curiosity. When I was around the age of six, I can remember playing with two pieces of steel or metal. One of them was magnetic and the other was not. The piece with the magnetic force attracted the piece without. I flipped them in opposite directions and they repelled each other as if some force was pushing them apart. I found this fascinating. Years later I would come to learn that every single atom in your body is from the core of a star that was created billions of years ago. From the skin cells to the iron in your blood, the carbon in your genes to the gold on your finger, all created over thirteen billion years ago. Not only is that an interesting connection, it is also a great one. This is a very unique bond that makes you look at life in a whole different perspective and see beauty in everything

In the last year I was able to meet with some of the top scientists in the world, including those whom you've just heard from. At MIT I met with Biological Oceanographer Penny Chisholm, Geneticist Eric Lander, the founding director of The Broad Institute at MIT. At Cornell University I met Alexander Gaeta and last but not least, Neil DeGrasse Tyson. It was incredibly humbling and inspiring to meet with these people but I do believe that the future Penny's, David's and Neil's are the young students that are in the NYC public schools. Not only was it interesting to see how dedicated and committed they were to their work, it was also interesting to see how excited they were to hear that I was incorporating science into my works

My next album will be entitled DARK MATTER, which is scheduled to be released in 2013. It will be a Cosmic journey through the universe. A galactic adventure. A Personal look into a dark and distant past. Matter that influences the evolution of the universe gravitationally. The goal is to influence the evolution of hip hop and schooling

Now that hip hop has become the single most dominant cultural touchstone in the lives of most youth, Chris Edmin, Rapgenius and I have come together to sponsor Science Genius. We chose hip hop as an art form to educate the listeners about scientific topics. As I said before I am not a science teacher. I go into classrooms as an artist and provide a model for students to communicate the information learned from their science teachers

My role in the process is to encourage students to compose creative writing, not just through rhyme, but through a metaphoric narrative approach to animate the science concepts so that the material can be digested by students in a interdisciplinary way. The rhymes are a starting point to introduce this technique of seeing science in a new way, a new context. I challenge students to not be too literal and write compelling stories. Make it "half short, twice strong." Light as an atom to where it doesn't trouble the soul of the listener, but heavy as a neutron star to where it's mind boggling

One thing that I try to impart in the classroom is that the rhyme must be clear, eloquent, witty and clever. I challenge students to make sense of complex information while maintaining the high standards of serious lyricism

I believe that science is important because it helps you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your surroundings. Knowledge of one's environment specifically through science can increase self-awareness, confidence, and critical thinking skills that can translate outside of the classroom. I just heard on a commercial that “Children need to learn science in order to succeed in this global society.” Hip hop is important because using a vehicle the students are already familiar with decreases their resistance to the technical jargon in science, giving them more control over their communication while incorporating science concepts into their everyday vocabularies

Thank you again for coming to show your support

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