Yo, why learn economics? Teacher, entrepreneur and bar-spitter Greg Caskey educates today’s youth about making effective decisions through HipHoponomics, LLC.
When rapper Eminem dropped his Slim Shady LP in 1999, just about every kid in America―from middle school to college age―was hooked. Led by the single, “My Name Is,” the album resonated with people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, going quadruple-platinum in the process.
Greg Caskey was just a 10-year-old growing up in suburban Philadelphia when he first heard the album, and it changed the way he listed to music. “I was blown away by the lyrics,” says Caskey. “It was funny and there was life experience oozing out him. He was full of pain, trial, redemption, triumph, everything. I could feel that in every single bar.”
Coincidentally, the intro for “My Name Is” begins with the line: Excuse me! Can I have the attention of the class for one second? Caskey, now 28, finds himself asking for the attention of his classroom every day at the Delaware Military Academy, where he teaches historical economics. To the average student, economics class probably triggers thoughts of dry lectures, boring charts and graphs, and the eternal struggle to stay awake.
But that’s not the case in M.C. Caskey’s (as he’s called) class. Inspired by his early years of listening to artists like Slim Shady, M.C. Caskey spins economics lessons into memorable hip-hop lyrics.
“This started out as a grad school project, but I knew I could weave hip hop into lesson planning for historical economics,” says Caskey. “I call it ‘HipHoponomics,’ and it’s pretty much a combination of rap lyrics with a lot of old school hip hop beats to present economic theories and principles in a fun way for my students.”
The idea for HipHoponomics originated while Caskey was studying for his Masters of Arts in Economics and Entrepreneurship for Educators at the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner School of Business and Economics. This spark of innovation eventually turned into a significant part of his extremely popular class, and now, it has gone from small side project to big picture possibilities in 2017.
Caskey’s art, after all, is officially creating its own demand in the marketplace for engaging economics lesson plans. His album, “HipHoponomics Vol. 2: The Man, The Myth, Adam Smith,” which pays homage to Adam Smith, the “Father of Economics,” was released on SoundCloud on May 5 and racked more than 1,110 listens almost immediately.
“The album teaches everything from how scarcity is a governing reality, to understanding unlimited wants with limited resources, and how to make educated choices within those parameters,” says Caskey. “If I could have thought in those terms as a teenager, I would have been a way more effective decision-maker and avoided a lot of hardship. That’s what I’m trying to help my students achieve.”
Soon after his album hit SoundCloud, Caskey decided it was time to make HipHoponomics official and started a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Referred by a friend, he contacted the Incorporation Specialist team at incorporate.com to create HipHoponomics, LLC. Despite feeling very nervous and unsure of what to expect, he says the experience was not only pleasant and informative, but quick.
“I think most people―myself included, until recently―look at incorporating themselves as a venture that is just too scary to even attempt,” says Caskey. “But the essence of being an entrepreneur is to bring value to the table, and that’s what I’m doing. The people at incorporate.com saw that value as well, and they’ve been fantastic throughout the process and continue to be.”
Caskey’s competitors, he says, include anyone behind the creative content movement in the educational world. While there aren’t a lot of rapping economics teachers out there, Caskey knows that HipHoponomics, LLC is unique and will appeal to teachers.
“Teachers are always trying to see who is doing creative things and how they can use those materials to improve their classroom,” says Caskey. “I’m not trying to take on the text book companies or offer a replacement for primary sources, but rather to offer my HipHoponomics as a front door to engagement.”
Like most entrepreneurs, Caskey formed his LLC with the incorporate.com team and asked, what’s next? Caskey continues to connect with the team to gain insight on best practices to grow HipHoponomics, LLC. The actual incorporation experience was much less stressful than he had anticipated.
“After maybe 30 minutes of questions and a few laughs, I was incorporated in what felt like the snap of a finger,” says Caskey. “They offer a touch of small and local business, while being extremely accessible. And they even care about your success as an entrepreneur―which was unexpected―so I get great feedback and ideas regarding what I’m doing.”
Caskey says his only regret is not contacting incorporate.com earlier. “If I knew it was going to be that simple, I would have incorporated much earlier in the process. It’s not only cool being an official business, but it holds me accountable to following up on things and taking it seriously. It works as a motivator.”
Forming HipHoponomics, LLC has set his vision in motion; Caskey launched his own website and social media pages, as well as his first product and an online store. Caskey’s HipHoponomics, LLC vision has even been featured on NBC Philadelphia, the “Class Dismissed” podcast, and even in Water E. Williams’ syndicated column on economics.
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