Tampa hip-hop artist inspires the next generation with educational raps

Students at Frontier Elementary School are excited when hip-hop artist Corey Thornton walks into their classroom. For 19 years, Thornton has been bringing a positive message to schools.

“Traveled all over the state of Florida, out of state as well, for over 4,000 gigs,” Thornton said. “I’m just doing what I can as a musical artist to inspire the next generation to stay in school and reach for the stars.”

Thornton says there is a method to musical madness.

“What I do is I write the music based on the difficulties students have in different schools and I write a melody. I use the same beats they use on a radio station, so that’s what got all the students’ attention. And they’re all fired up, excited about the music and at the same time they’re learning and getting positive messages as well,” he explained.

Thornton started out wanting to be a hairdresser, but joined the Gibbs High School Musical Theater program and was bitten by the performing bug.

“I started doing things for schools, I found that was a purpose and the purpose was to give back to the students,” he said. “So if I can use my music to try to encourage them to make smart choices and, you know, shoot for the stars, that’s what I’m here for.”

A goal he is committed to fulfilling.

“I’ve written about 25, 30 songs and I’m writing more right now,” Thornton explained.

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His “place” is his new music studio.

“It’s a place for me to come and record like a record, you know, say something motivational for any school, like something they can put on real quick for the morning announcements to get them all started throughout the day,” he commented.

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Thornton receives a lot of positive feedback from parents.

“It feels good to do something good to give back,” he said. “And also the students I’ve worked with over the years to see them grow into someone who is successful. And that makes me feel good. You go out and do good. You always win.”

During the pandemic, he partnered with a publishing house to write a book about his life and encourage students to read. They printed a million copies and distributed them to schools across the United States.

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