Thursday 18 Jul, 2013

Service Learning Through Hip Hop Beat Creation

Founded in 2011 by popular hip hop producer Stephen Levitin (aka the Apple Juice Kid) and Dr. Mark Katz, the Beat Making Lab started as a music course at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professor and local North Carolina musician Pierce Freelon teamed up with Levitin in 2012 to help drive global citizenship through music.

Pierce Freelon and Stephen Levitin (Apple Juice Kid)

Pierce Freelon and Stephen Levitin (Apple Juice Kid). Photo credit:

In partnership with PBS and Yole! Africa, Levitin and Freelon traveled to Goma, a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to set up a service learning beat making lab in which they worked with and taught 20 local musicians the process of producing music. Before leaving the DRC, and through charitable contributions, the local lab was stocked with laptops, microphones, and software so that the Goma musicians could continue teaching music production to local youth, and creating a sustainable music environment.

To continue to have a positive impact, and to spread the art of beat-making worldwide, the Apple Juice Kid and Professor Pierce Freelon have either already launched, or are in the process of setting up labs in Chapel Hill, Panama, Senegal, and Fiji. Once the labs are finished, the overarching goal is to design an open source software for musicians all over the world to give them a portal through which to share beats, stories, lyrics, and new ideas with one another.