By Dana Dean
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Hip-hop music is being used to motivate students to succeed in a St. Louis school thanks to a rapper turned role model.
At this inner city charter school, 9th graders are learning a formula. But this isn't a math class. This is a class on how to succeed.
These Confluence Prep. Academy students study a formula for success, not with the help of any textbook, but with the help of hip-hop?
Instructor Koran Bolden uses the music kids listen to outside class as his teaching tool inside of class. In Bolden's six week course, students write a positive hip hop song about their dreams.
"There needs to be more positive messages in the media since our kids are heavily influenced by it," said Bolden.
But he hasn't always had this perspective.
Eight years ago, Bolden signed a $150,000 deal with one of the most successful record labels in history, Def Jam.
The money went as quickly as it came.
"Ten-thousand dollar chains, and jewelry, and things like that," said Bolden.
But it was only a matter of months until he said his record deal faded. He went from being seen on MTV to working a minimum wage job.
"I was asking myself, 'Why me?'"
Bolden took a good listen to the music he was making and didn't like what he heard.
"It wasn't the message that I wanted to push out... I said, time for a change."
That's when Bolden said he started to turn his life around.
"I actually started getting involved in church."
And with newfound faith, Bolden opened a recording studio in the St. Louis Mills Mall - now called the St. Louis Outlet Mall.
"No profanity in my studio."
That, he said, is what got the attention of school administrators in the area.
"You can become anything that you want to become in life," he told students.
Motivational speaking engagements at schools turned into a motivational music program he calls Dream Success.
"I have a background from the urban community... since I made it out of that place, it's only right to go back where I came from," Bolden said.
Student get to record the song in Bolden's studio.
"The number one goal is get an education, take determination, and concentration."
The result is a catchy song about going to college.
"Books, academics, it's the key necessity to success," he said.