Thrive’s RHYME Director Collaborates with Ice-T at Songwriting Workshop

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Ice-T was impressed. He had never witnessed anything quite like Randy Mason and his cajón.

The legendary rapper, actor, and producer was a guest speaker and facilitator at an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) songwriting workshop for teens hosted by Microsoft and The Universal Hip-Hop Museum at the Microsoft Garage in New York City on August 10.

Mason, the NYC Director and Founder of RHYME (Rhymes Helping Young Minds Excel) at Thrive Collective, assisted with the workshop, where participating youth were introduced to Microsoft’s A.I. music platform. At the event, Thrive Collective was invited to display two canvas murals that were created two years ago in partnership with the Universal Hip Hop Museum for the NYC  Hip Hop Homecoming. When representatives from Microsoft saw Mason in attendance, they asked him to help with the workshop.

During the school year, Mason directs the RHYME program in New York City public schools. RHYME connects the dots between mic skills and life skills, focusing on the multidimensional elements of Hip Hop, encompassing spoken word, visual arts, dance, and musical composition.

At the A.I. workshop, Ice-T spoke to the teens about his experience as an emcee. He and Mason helped the group craft their lyrics and gave feedback on their performances. Teens were empowered to generate ideas, lyrics, music, and even cover art, based on user prompts.

“Remixing technology is fundamentally Hip Hop,” Mason said. “What Microsoft and the Universal Hip Hop Museum are doing with the FlowScholar AI program is very interesting.”

During lunch, Mason chatted with Ice T and his team, rhyming and play his cajón, a box-shaped percussion instrument. In an Instagram video. Mason gave him a huge thank you for facilitating and for the “rapping Cajónero” endorsement. Ice T, the star of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, said:

“This is Ice-T. I’m up here at Microsoft with my man Randy Mason. He just busted a rhyme and he played a beat on this box called a cajon…I’ve seen people beat on desks and all kinds of things. I’ve never seen somebody bring their own beat box. This is technically a beat box. He busted an ill rhyme…”

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