Also uses genre to save their souls
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Dressed in a white shirt with a neatly knotted dark tie and a pen in his pocket, I.C. Norcom High School science teacher Daron Moore appears rather scholarly, almost nerdy.
Then he breaks into what he calls “the physics rap.”
“Physics phun, ICN class No. 1, coming at you fast like a bullet from a gun,” he rhymes. “But don’t run, cuz you gotta stand and face the challenge. Understand how Newton’s laws keep the whole world in balance.”
Mr. Moore, who goes by the entertainment name “The Tcha,” also has a gospel rap CD, not-so-coincidentally called “The Formula.”
But the formula he’s talking about is not found in a textbook. Mr. Moore says on the CD cover the formula is: U+J=L (infinity); or you plus Jesus equals infinite life.
Mr. Moore, 30, produced 1,000 copies of the CD and distributed about 700 of them. He gave away some and others he sold under his Reformation Records label.
Beyond telling students that physics is cool, he said, the music shows a wider audience alternatives to the violence, sexism and a lack of creativity that plays out daily on television, the radio and in communities.
On Friday nights, he sings gospel rap to youths at the Sanctuary of Hope Urban Outreach Center’s hip-hop night, called Da Jump Off.
About 30 youths are in a group that meets every week at the church.
Mr. Moore’s expertise and support is welcome, said Adrian Worth, the center’s director of teen services.
“It’s very powerful,” Mr. Worth said. “He’s got a message that changes lives. He has the respect of the teenagers. He has their attention.”
Mr. Moore raps to them about turning over their lives to Jesus, not drinking and not doing drugs. He tells them to turn away from music that exploits women and encourages men to participate in activities that could land them in prison.
He said he can relate to many of the troubles of those in the youth group. Growing up in Delaware and New Jersey, Mr. Moore had a tough time. He was smart beyond his years, so other students often teased him, calling him a nerd.
He also had to deal with feeling abandoned. After his mother left, he spent a year in foster care, which he talks about on his CD in a song titled “Thankful.”
Mr. Moore says rap helped him make sense of what was happening in his life.
Gansta rap — about killing, pimps and prostitutes — wasn’t so big, then. But rappers still made money putting each other down in their lyrics. Mr. Moore followed suit.
“I used to cuss in my records,” he said. “My whole style has changed since then.”
Rap music has been exploited, he said, with artists saying whatever it takes to make money.
Mr. Moore says he is fighting to help save lives.
“I’m at war,” he said. “Anybody who wants to go with me, c’mon.”