Brian ‘Dyalekt’ Kushner moved from St. Croix to New York to study acting and law. He also liked to rap. After witnessing civil rights injustices at the law firm he worked for, he dropped both the job and the law classes, pursuing the arts instead. Performances at the Nuyorican led him to Hip Hop Theater, writing plays that have been performed on stages across the world. He didn’t sleep on the rapping either, releasing music and touring internationally. His first album/one man play Square Peg Syndrome helped him get named to the Public Theater’s Emerging Writer’s Group. He has been a mainstay in NYC’s theater and Hip Hop scenes, rocking everywhere from the Bowery Ballroom to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
When Dyalekt was invited to present at a workshop for New York SCORES, a soccer and poetry program in Harlem and the Bronx, his perspective on performance changed. Students are much better audience members than bar patrons, and Dyalekt found he had a natural affinity for facilitation. Hip Hopping with students like he did with MCs in a cypher led to better engagement, grades, and overall attitude toward school than the usual class.
After researching Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Dyalekt designed curricula lining up the elements of Hip Hop with each learning style. Through Hip Hop, or rather, by Hip Hopping, students could assess their learning tendencies and use them to their benefit. Furthermore, the community aspects of Hip Hop show students how to be responsible citizens, peer mentors, and advocates for justice. Dyalekt brought this curriculum, along with his album/play back home to St. Croix, rocking with 17 orgs and over 400 students. They produced 2 books of poetry, an album, and a documentary. He also now teaches teachers how to MC in a classroom.
Dyalekt had been an entrepreneur since his teenage days, and tells his students that the only thing that gets him out of his house before 10am is talking to kids, because he would never make it working on a punch-clock schedule. Since the essence of Hip Hop is making something from nothing, Dyalekt has rapped, written, and performed every freelance gig available to his skill set. He ran rap based Lincoln-Douglas debate/battles to teach youths how to prepare and present at a job interview. He linked up with Pockets Change to help students find freedom in expression, understanding, and finances.