In The Ghetto

by Rakim

Photo by Bennett Raglin

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Where You’re At

Step 1

Have your students examine the quote by legendary rapper and lyricist, Rakim: “‘Cause it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.” Ask them, “What does that quote mean? Where have you seen that quote manifest itself? Explain.”

Step 2

Watch Eric B. and Rakim’s video of “In The Ghetto.” Then talk about the ways he had to overcome the obstacles he faced living “in the ghetto.”

Step 3

Have them come up with a list of ways that they (or people they know), like Rakim, found ways to rise above the obstacles they faced in an “unsavory” environment.

Step 4

Give your students time to write a poem that mirrors Rakim’s belief from “In The Ghetto” that “it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.”

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one. The prominent literary devices & techniques that this particular poem includes are: diction, selection of detail, figurative language, and tone.

Step 2

Open the following presentation. The presentation includes all of the links and information you and your students will need for the assignment. In this assignment, your students will watch/read Rakim’s “In The Ghetto,” find three lines that support the message of the first verse, and discuss how each of the individual lines reinforce the meaning of the verse as a whole. Then go through the presentation with them.

Step 3

When prompted (on Slide 8), give your students access to the text of the song and the “Answer Garden” you create. Your students will need to go through the text of the first verse of the song and choose three separate lines that support the message “it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.”

*Directions on how to create the Answer Garden are in the notes of the slide.

Step 4

After they’ve all input their responses, reveal the three most “popular” of the three lines of the song, the ones that the students chose most; these lines are the ones your students must work with in their analysis.

Step 5

When prompted (Slide 10), have your students open the following document and briefly go over the instructions with them. Your students are going to complete the infographic activity in this document. Then give your students time to work.

Step 6

When your students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Children / Youth
  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Economy
  • Education Formal / Informal
  • Home / Homelessness
  • Labor / Work
  • Philosophy

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Selection of Detail
  • Tone