Rhyming to the Top

Zac Ivie, one of Utah’s emerging music artists, shared his growing success and his hip hop roots with aspiring teen writers and musicians in Dr. Haslam’s creative writing class. Ivie began his early hip hop career at Bingham High School, where he learned slam poetry, and eventually, his love for performing. After graduation, he continued to practice his writing, eventually making a career out of performing as an MC. In his workshop with Copper Hills students, Ivie explained that “hip hop hop is not just music; hip hop is the culture, the art, the graffitis, the B-boys, the breakdancers.”

While once considered a stigma, hip hop has risen to fame, influencing pop culture and the communities of cities across America. After backlash and criticism, the four main components of hip hop emerged. 

Hip hop originated with the introduction of the DJ, who broke the records. Later, the BBoys and BGirls added style and dance to the music. Graffiti writers, who were often underestimated, gave the look and aesthetic to the hip hop style. The role of the MC, arguably the most recognized today, came later.

Dr. Haslam’s class attended the workshop in the tech atrium.

Today, the MC writes the lyrics and entertains the audience during performances. Making a career as an MC is no easy task. It takes more than just rapping on stage. Ivie explained that early on, he had to ask to perform at different venues. He also said, “As a business, you have to be methodical. A lot of what I didn’t do in the beginning was figure out where the money from the show was going. It had to come out of my own pocket, instead of making my music work for me.”

The real challenge is creating music good enough to make it to the stage. In the workshop with high school students, Ivie explained the basics to writing the kick and clap of a killer song. Technical formulas aside, for Ivie, song-writing is about knowing and expressing one’s self. It’s not only a career, but also a way of life. 

Ivie finds strength and solace from his music, helping him become a better person. “[Because of hip hop] I’ve learned major coping mechanisms. I’ve learned to cope with the need to express myself via song. [I’ve learned] how to take my problems and put them on pages, instead of putting them on someone else.”

Becoming a full blown music artist does not come without some risks. For Ivie, sometimes, your best is all you can give and you lay everything on the line the first go around. “I learned how to take chances on dreams and battling outside of the box. My Plan B is that Plan A works well enough that I don’t need a Plan B.”

While his success is growing, Ivie still works other jobs apart from music. However, the key for him is sticking to what you love. “I teach a kick-boxing class in the mornings. I boxed for 12 years competitively. I found things I liked doing, and wanted to do that. Boxing was a big passion of mine, like music was a big passion of mine.”

Each person experiences creativity and personal genius differently, but Ivie offers one piece of advice that can apply to anyone who hopes to write music. “Have a writing time; give yourself that time with your art. A lot of people get way too busy, and a lot of people start losing the feel for it. If you don’t give yourself the time to practice, you’re not going to get any songs.” This principle can apply to anything, not just writing. If a person wants to flourish in something, they need to put in the time.

Ivie quizzes students on knowledge of rap

As he continues to follow his dreams and discover himself through the music, Ivie hopes to be able to help students learn what he has learned. While he has visited CHHS, Ivie notes that he plans on visiting other Utah schools. To help other students have opportunities to learn about rap and hip hop, find Zac Ivie on Instagram @zac.ivie and share his message and story. To discover more local rap, find @getitwriteslc also on Instagram.