The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

EOPS counselor uses Hip-hop music and culture to educate, motivate


Hip-hop is more than music to Kenneth “KT” Times.

Hip-hop is a culture that the City College instructor and counselor tries to embody to the fullest whenever he can. Times says hip-hop influences everything he does, from his work environment to his relationships with people. He says when he thinks of the phrase, “I am hip-hop,” he believes that he represents hip-hop in a positive way.

“When I’m writing about Hip-Hop, I use capital letters!” says Times emphatically, speaking of the power it holds as a culture. “When we [Hip-Hop educators] write about it, we capitalize it because it’s important.”

Times, who works for Extended Opportunity Programs and Services at City College, is also the founder of Men of Purpose, an EOPS program that helps men of color achieve their educational goals. Times also teaches Summer Success Academy and College Success courses, including one with a hip-hop emphasis. These are but a few of the many ways Times says he promotes the culture and uses hip-hop as a learning and teaching tool.

Times is a hulking figure at 6-foot-1, yet at 46 years of age, he refers to himself as “a child of the funk.” He grew up in a musical family — his father had his own doo-wop group, and his brother played bass guitar. Times himself dabbled with cornet and violin. He says he and hip-hop grew up together, and he connects his love for bass lines with the reason he gravitated to hip-hop. Times is married with two teenage children—a son and a daughter— and says he is inspired by his faith, family, friends, art and most of all, hip-hop.

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Many people on campus say Times, widely known as KT, makes a deep impact. He is known for being approach- able and easy to connect with, especially among youth, because of his hip-hop attitude combined with a professional demeanor. His impact is even felt on his colleagues, such as Adam Freas, also a professor and City College counselor.

“KT is someone that has been extremely influential in my life,” Freas says. “He is someone that has motivated me, mentored me and been a continual presence in my growth as a counselor, educator and person.”

They both connect on a hip-hop level because of their love for the golden era of hip-hop, which includes music by A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, KRS-One, Rakim and many others.

“However, to me, the fun has been found in challenging each other to see who can shed light on a new artist that rep- resents the essence of hip-hop,” Freas says.

Another of Times’ colleagues is Irma Rodriguez, EOPS program coordinator.

“He goes above and beyond to help every student reach their educational dreams, and he supports them through,” says Rodriguez. She adds that Times is the epitome of an EOPS counselor because “he’s committed to student success.”

Times says he constantly reiterates to his students that all he wants to do is see them walk across that stage, and for students he knows, he will keep reminding them about it. Those who know him well say that Times always keeps his word, and that this is one of his great qualities as a man and a person. Through his Men of Purpose program, he makes time for fellow men of color to interact with each other, and even offers them a two-hour study period with tutoring on Saturdays. Even if no one shows up for it, Times is there.

Times says although hip-hop culture isn’t perfect — because of “its misogyny and explicit lyrics and constant use of the N-word” — there are still lessons to be learned from it. He says hip-hop can encourage personal development and enhance critical thinking. He says it can also be an outlet, a “voice for the voiceless.”

Times says he doesn’t teach people how to dance or rhyme when teaching about hip-hop. He instead teaches about historical aspects, using examples of rappers like DMX, a man who came from nothing and used his talent to get to the top, despite his obvious demons. Times acknowledges hip-hop’s influence on his life, adding, “There’s a huge movement of utilizing hip-hop culture in academia.”

As a product and student of hip-hop, Times says he believes that it’s more than music — it influences one as a person, and it needs to be passed on. He says that originally there were four elements of hip- hop: breakdancing, MCing, graffiti and DJing. KT likes to add one more element, and that’s “knowledge of self.”

Times says he likes to live by the words of KRS-One, his favorite MC, who says, “I am Hip-Hop. When I take a step, Hip-Hop takes a step.”

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