School of Roc: Meet the Students of Jay-Z's Roc Nation

By: MIKHAIL KULINETS / STAFF WRITER


The Roc Nation School of Music, Sports & Entertainment's degree programs prepare students for a wide range of careers in performance, entrepreneurship, and all aspects of music, sports business and management.


Prospective students at Roc Nation have many questions to consider when applying such as “what kind of classes does this program have?” or “what kind of opportunities are out there?”


Also you might consider who exactly qualifies for the program. Is it students who already have some experience with music or is it for beginners? Be it young, ambitious rappers or connoisseurs of the underground jazz scene, Roc Nation seems to cover all facets of the music industry, but is it right for you?


To gain a deeper perspective on this matter, Seawanhaka staff spoke to freshmen at the school to hear their stories about what their hopes were before applying and how the semester has measured up so far.

The spectrum of our questions were wide; from actual subjects, to motives and hopes for the future semesters. It also touched upon the personal matter of music, its meaning to each of my correspondents, its power and different angles of the craft.


Those who agreed to give insight to the program shared some subjective and truthful opinions on music in general as well as the atmosphere in the program, its surroundings, subjects, professors, and artists.


The first person to speak with me is Alijah Ralph, a Music Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Production major and gave us new insight as to why she chose Roc Nation:


Q: What brought you here?

A: Since I am from Houston, Texas, it's the atmosphere of Brooklyn itself. The place where hip-hop was born and raised and, of course, I knew if I moved here I would meet a bunch of people and build a lot of connections to give me the best chance to be successful in the music business and become a successful artist someday. The students I already met are so talented it’s only been a month. We are already making connections, as well as sharing and making stuff together, so I can definitely see the vision in that.

Q: What kind of classes are you taking this semester? Is there anything in particular that you learned that interested you?

A: Yes, especially 9th Wonder, he is a famous producer who teaches History of Hip-Hop. For example, I didn’t think about it at first, but the birth of hip-hop was with slavery. During slavery, slaves would sing songs, mostly jazz, and try to hide messages in. So Black people would use terms so that only they understood what they were talking about. Hip-hop is the same where you find the hidden message in it. I also like the class Creative Promotion and Media. It teaches you how to promote and present yourself as an artist.


Q: What were your hopes for this program?

A: One thing, before we came here we were told that there would be four studios for us to use, but they are not ready yet. For now, people have been using their stuff from home so we just practice in our dorms. Hopefully, we will have legitimate studios soon, so we can be more productive.


Q: How does this program inspire you?

A: Yeah, I would definitely say it does. You feel more comfortable being surrounded by people, who are driven by the same thing. I have only known these guys for a month, but I feel like we have known each other for ages. We share the same vision, same goals, same passion.



Q: What is the meaning of music to you?

A: I Love this. Music is something I can’t live without. If I ever feel I’m alone or feel down on myself, I always go to my notebook and I write and I go to music. It’s something I’m constantly thinking about. It's literally a part of me. I would always come to it to get something off my chest and I want to be a part of it. I see how songs can even save lives and I want to do that. I want to bring that positivity and that influence to people so I can make their days brighter.



Next, I spoke to Adam Lite, a Music Technology, Entrepreneurship and Production major about his experience with Roc Nation.


Q: What kind of classes are you taking this semester? Is there anything in particular that you learned that interested you?

A: I do enjoy my subjects and my professors, yes. I am taking a Production class and it’s been pretty fun so far. You get to know how to actually practice and make beats. I am super new to that, I have equipment at home and I am starting to learn how to do it, and the professor has been helpful explaining it all. Also there are drum and piano classes that I enjoy.


Q: What were your hopes for this program?

A: I heard about it on the radio on the hip-hop station 97.1 and decided to look it up. I did plan to go to college and I wanted to go for this profession, but I would probably have gone to the West Coast but it's not the same as here. To have a program like this here where I’m from, it has been so helpful in bringing a lot of creative people together. I felt like I needed to stay here. You know, you have everything in New York and I know all the other guys coming for this program from Chicago, or Houston or Denver, but I am already used to this area. Everything happens here.


Q: How does this program inspire you?

A: I think it definitely gives me reasons to be happy. You know, college is already hard as it is, but if you are doing something you are passionate about it makes the process a lot easier. I learned how to make beats and play drums from scratch and that’s great. I’m mostly here for the business and production aspect, though. To not only learn how to manage an artist or work with concert promotions, but learning the craft is nice too and I might use the knowledge later.


Q: What is the meaning of music to you?

A: When times are rough I always go to it. I can’t imagine the world functioning without it. It brings people together, you know, at music festivals or fairs. There are all kinds of mood helpers in music: if you are sad, there is sad music for you. If you are happy, there is one too. It calls out your emotions and helps you to understand yourself better. Something I definitely want to be a part of.



Finally, I spoke to Applied Music major, Tobias Girona.


Q: What kind of classes are you taking this semester? Is there anything in particular that you learned that interested you?

A: We have a class called Rock History where I have been learning a lot about the first time the electric guitar was recorded with the distortion — it all was an accident. One guy was carrying an amplifier and he dropped it, so it sounded odd once he finally plugged it in, but the producer said he liked it. It was that simple. Also, I was aware of it, so it doesn’t surprise me that much, but the entirety of rock history is riddled with racism and appropriation. Something I learned was that the term “cover” was invented, because the producer would hire white artist to sing a song, but originally written by a black artist, so the industry would basically just take credit and appeal to a wider crowd. That is pretty sad. There was a lot of African-American music which was shown to America but even the music charts were split by color.


Q: What were your hopes for this program?

A: I didn’t want to go to college at first, but I changed my mind and wanted to go somewhere to work on my craft. I knew I wanted to live in New York City, but wasn’t sure where exactly. I like it so far. I didn’t know what to expect from the program and there was no-one to ask, since it's a new one. I looked it up, of course, but I think a lot of kids here didn’t know much about what to expect.


Q: How does this program inspire you?

A: I would say it’s more about the vibe about me, than the program itself. I can go take a train, go to clubs in Manhattan and check out new music. I am from West Massachusetts, where I used to live in the middle of nowhere, but now being around so many people who are also pursuing music, it's really inspiring.


Q: Are there any classes or topics you wish were discussed more?

A: What I feel has been missing from a lot of my classes is studying the craft of music, as opposed to the business production side of it. I think it's missing a bit of critical thinking and I don’t mean studying the notes, but the program so far is too beat-heavy and production-centered, in my opinion.


Q: What is the meaning of music to you?

Q: Music is about connecting to people. You can’t really go into detail with that. There is just something about a person singing, playing the instrument, creating with pure passion, that is very captivating. There is a very fine line between craft and raw human experience. It's the most difficult thing I found to navigate, as someone who is trying to be a great musician. It’s like having someone who is making people feel the way I feel when I listen to my favorite artists. It pushes me to practice everyday, but it’s not only about that. You have to practice a kind of living life, as well, where you experience something outside of craft. Music opens your spirit in a way that lets the things just flow. It is the same with music and human emotions; there is always either consonance and dissonance.


After meeting these students and having deep and enjoyable conversations with them, one’s understanding of this program expands enough to finally suggest it to a friend or family member.


Although it's only been one month, these testimonials from the experiences of real students are all the proof you will need to know that Roc Nation is an incredible asset to our school.

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