The idea for Flocabulary first came to founder / lyricist Blake Harrison in high school. A good student who still struggled to memorize facts for tests, he wondered why it was so easy to remember lines to his favorite rap songs, but so difficult to memorize academic information. Blake realized that if a rapper released an album that defined SAT vocab words, students would have a fun and effective way to study for the SAT.
After studying English at the University of Pennsylvania and working on his rapping at parties, gatherings and open mics around Philadelphia, Blake moved out to San Francisco. In San Francisco, he met Alex Rappaport, a talented musician and producer. Alex had studied music at TuftsUniversity, and was now writing music for indie films and TV commercials, and producing ring tones for cell phones. Both he and Blake found jobs at a local Italian restaurant to help pay the bills.
During a game of basketball one day, Blake mentioned his old high school idea of vocabulary rap to Alex. Alex gave the typical response: “that’s a great idea.” But he also added: “let’s do it.”
A month later, the duo had a demo recorded, which they sent around to various educational publishers. When Sparknotes, the world’s largest educational website, commissioned two songs, Blake and Alex realized they had created something real. The name practically invented itself: Flocabulary.
In November 2004, they launched Flocabulary.com. By April 2005, they had completed their first full length album, featuring 12 songs that define 500 SAT vocabulary words. By the summer of 2005, Flocabulary had appeared in the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Fitness Magazine, and in numerous blogs around the internet.
In the fall of 2005, Flocabulary began their Shakespeare is Hip-Hop school tour, performing shows in up and down the East Coast. In November of 2005, Flocabulary was featured on MTV News.
In April of 2006, Flocabulary’s SAT Vocab CD + book hit bookshelves worldwide thanks to a deal with Cider Mill Press and Sterling Publishing. By September, ABC News reported that Flocabulary helped raise average SAT scores at one high school by 50 points. Soon aftter, Flocabulary was featured on CNN, Fox News, NBC Today in New York, and Geraldo At Large.
Flocabulary followed up the success of their SAT book with Hip-Hop U.S. History in December, 2006. That project, which aims to teach students American history through fact-filled narrative raps, was praised by Cornel West and Howard Zinn as "extraordinary" and "necessary". To complete the project, the duo teamed up with some of New York City’s most talented underground rappers and artists including April Hill, Akir and Grey. The album's single, "Let Freedom Ring" which features the voice of Martin Luther King Jr., became a podcast hit.
As news spread of Flocabulary's mission, various artists and academics began to throw their weight behind the movement. In March 2007, Flocabulary got a chance to work with Grammy Award-Winning artist Ninth Wonder on their newest album: Shakespeare is Hip-Hop. The album, which dropped May 9th, seeks to bring Shakesepare to life for today's students through a combination of original Shakespeare rapped over beats, modern day verse translations, and dramatic readings. The album features a host of new artists including Spectac, Median, Netty, 9th Wonder, and Christopher "Play" Martin.
Flocabulary operates a studio in Times Square, where they are currently hard at work on the next educational hip-hop project.