Art of Hip-Hop


What is Art of Hip-Hop?

The Art of Hip-Hop is an outreach, performance program where youth can learn or polish their skills in writing, MC-ing and spoken word. Art of Hip-Hop targets youth with an affinity for hip-hop music. This cultural interest is used to teach youth the true origins of the art form, that it is multifaceted, and that it can be constructive, positive and truly magnificent. Students are encouraged to use words, through poetry and music, as constructive emotional outlets. Students have access to a fully functional recording studio and learn performance techniques. For many youth, this program keeps them off the streets and out of trouble, and keeps their sights on collegiate and professional opportunities. All young people ages 10-21 are eligible to participate in the Art of Hip-Hop program. Youth are able to receive both full and partial scholarships to participate.

How it works


Art of Hip-Hop program instructors teach the cornerstones of hip-hop, rhyme construction, and MC-ing.  Students begin in the program in early October. In the first quarter, youth learn the history of the hip-hop culture. They then breakdown of the four elements of hip-hop, their origin, and importance to the culture. During the first quarter, youth will also begin to learn how to manipulate vocabulary to make powerful lyrical content and will receive weekly creative writing challenges. Each student is given three vocabulary words which they are required to incorporate into their challenge assignment.


During the second and third quarters, youth begin to explore songwriting and music creation. Students choose a music course from one of the four taught at the DASH Center. This class is used to teach the fundamentals of music composition and theory. Students continue to complete weekly challenges with their vocabulary words, but the outcomes are full songs with the goal of helping students build a book of meaningful songs. Students also begin performance technique in this quarter.  During this period, students will record two of their best works, and prepare to audition for performance group AOHH. AOHH students perform several at local events and are required to perform community service projects as a team.


The real work begins after the third quarter! Students will learn event and festival planning as they work as a team to produce the annual Hip-Hop in the Park music festival, which takes place in People’s Park in Tacoma each August. Students will now begin to work on artist development, music creation, studio engineering, and much, much, more.


In addition to education, youth are mentored and encouraged to keep private journals. Through this program, youth are helped to understand the beauty of their heritage, shown doors of opportunity aside from gang involvement, and are steered toward college arts programs and scholarships. Art of Hip Hop students are held to a very high level of responsibility and citizenship and perform four community service projects each year. After the first quarter, public school students who continue to participate in the program must maintain a 2.7 GPA.  In order to be accepted into AOHH and perform, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Success Story

DreStylez (aka. Rodney Taylor) grew up in a musical family.  At a young age he was introduced to a wide variety of music, but his personal favorites were always hip-hop and R&B. When Dre turned thirteen he was introduced to the DASHCenter and joined Reality Check Dance Team.  Dre was only on the team a short while before meeting Scooter, and his future dramatically changed.  Dre was a whiz with computers and had even had the privilege of going to Africa to teach computer systems and robotics to youth in Kenya.  However, Dre was still a shy teenager with a passion burning inside him. Dre joined the Art of Hip-Hop summer camp and then decided to stay in the course for the full school year.


At a time when personal situations began to take a toll on Dre’s school work and social life, DASH Directors and the Art of Hip-Hop provided an outlet for Dre to unleash all of the emotion he had bottled up and to go places he did think he could with his writing. “We were learned exercises that would improve our freestyle, writing ability, knowledge of the elements and principles [of hip-hop], even our vocabulary.  We were made to think, and react.  We were given writing assignments that would push us out of our comfort zone, to make us think out of the box,” says Dre. Since at DASH one is  “always encouraged to try new things, my passion for the art grew. By year two [of the Art of Hip-Hop], we had created the group of MC’s called AOHH! We added artist/character development, performance technique and stage presence and conditioning to the things we learned. We were taught to always preform like it’s your debut. Doesn’t matter if it’s four or 400, the audience expects a show. With this in mind, it really changed the way I carried myself on stage and in life. I am no longer the naturally shy and soft-spoken pre-teen. I am DreStylez, the alter ego who rocks the stage . . . even the stage of life.”


Dre speaks highly of the training he received during the summer when the students produced the Hip Hop in the Park Music Festival.  Students received training in several aspect of production including how to approach business owners for sponsorship, vendor placements, support, media training, and promotion. Students were interviewed on KUBE 93 to speak about the event and the program.


“ I think this helped me the most because I was that shy kid who didn’t really know the right things to say or really have the confidence to approach businesses and companies.” Now branching out on his own to pursue his career as an artist full time, Dre is using the skills acquired in the Art of Hip-Hop program to make his dream a reality. “The DASH Center is a great place to build skills and bridges. The teaching, knowledge, and experience of [DASH Instructors] will definitely make a student well-rounded in which ever art form they pursue.”

Schedule for the year (when applications are due)

  • Registration for program: First two weeks of October
  • Winter Recital: Second Saturday in December
  • AOHH Auditions: First two weeks of March
  • Hip-Hop in the Park (Hilltop Music Festival): August 10, 2013
  • Year-End Recital: June 22, 2013

 List of qualifications and criterion

  • Art of Hip-Hop runs for one year. All students, especially scholarship students, are expected to complete the run of the project.
  • Youth are required to maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA in school.
  • Everyone is to be ready for class at least 10 minutes before class starts. Students arriving to class more than 10 minutes late will not be allowed to enter. After five (5) tardies, students will be placed on leave. Parents will need to schedule a meeting with Review Committee before student will be allowed to re-attend program.
  • Students are required to practice a minimum of 4 hours per week (1 hour for each class), outside of class.
  • Each program and class has a preset curriculum. Students will be evaluated quarterly to monitor progress.

Tuition and Fees

  • Registration fee is $100 to participate, paid in full or two installments of $50 (September and December)
  • Tuition for the program is $50 per month for the first year. Considering the stellar education and training students receive, this cost is amazingly low.
  • Several scholarships are available for families and young adults with financial need. PLEASE apply for these if the tuition will cause your family hardship. We don’t want to turn anyone away!
  • Families receiving scholarships are expected to complete the full year of the program and fulfill program obligations. Families may be expected to repay balance of scholarship funding if student does not complete program.
  • Limited work-study positions are available for teens and young adults without financial support.

Parental/Familial Contributions

  • Parents or adult family members of students receiving scholarships are required to fulfill 10 hours of volunteer service with the DASH Center each month. This helps us to keep cost low and continue our ability to offer scholarships.
  • All parents or students over 16 years are required to serve on one of 3 committees: Community Presence, Fundraising, or Events.
  • Committees will meet once a month. Attendance and participation at meetings count toward hours.
  • There will be one major musical, one major recital, and one in-studio show. There are opportunities to volunteer at each of these events.
  • Families are expected to fully participate in all fundraisers and fundraising events.
  • Teens who do not have familial support are encouraged to find school counselors, adult friends, or mentors to help fulfill volunteer hours.
  • Each family is responsible for adopting a school. You will be the face of DASH in that school. This is will help us better distribute information to students and teachers in the school.

Apply Now

To book AOHH for your event please contact