Children hip hop to music and stories at the library

DOWNTOWN – On Friday morning, parents brought their kids to St. Louis Public Library’s Central location for “Hip Hop Storytelling with MK Stallings,” one of their Hip Hop Appreciation Week events.

MK Stallings, the emcee of the event, incorporated hip hop music into a story time in which he read them three different kids’ books, all to the beat of hip hop songs. He also played a game with the kids and their parents, in which he used fruits and vegetables to come up with a rap.

This is the second year that Stallings has done this event for Hip Hop Appreciation Week. He also runs a non-profit called UrbArts in north city.

He said that the organization focuses on giving platforms to artists, especially those in hip hop, in St. Louis to enable them to succeed and also inspire and mentor the next generation.

“I see us as like the second generation of the black arts movement,” he said, noting that UrbArts fosters artistic expression in not just hip hop artists but also visual artists, poets and others as well.  

“Those individuals make St. Louis all the more vital and vibrant and interesting,” he said.

Stallings said that last year when he did the event with local rapper BLVCK SPVDE, he kept to the storytelling aspect of the morning, but this year he brought his own turntables along to combine the stories with music.

The stories he chose, he said he reads to his own two kids at home. Additionally, Stallings played Stevie Wonder’s “Keep on Running” at the event Friday, a song he plays at home for his boys often.

Hip hop, like all music, is good for kids because it “helps to stimulate brain activity,” he said.

“Hip hop is, at its best, a combination of stories, rhymes, poems and music, so what I do is I provide instrumentals,” he said, though he added that not everything he played Friday morning was strictly hip hop, straying into Afrobeat, disco and even some jazz.

But he elaborated, “Hip hop is anything that allows you to speak your truth and nod your head and kinda bounce around. Children love to move. And so hip hop provides them the soundtrack for movement.”

This event was a part of Hip Hop Appreciation Week at the Central Library.

For more information, visit https://www.slpl.org/6th-annual-hip-hop-appreciation-week/. And to find out more about UrbArts, visit their website at https://www.urbarts.org/.

Samantha Auch

Author: Samantha Auch

Sam Auch graduated from Knox College, where she studied Theater and Gender Studies. Outside her work with The Northsider, she works as an actor, playwright, and artist. You can found out more about her at her website thisisauchward.com

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