Malik Brooks and Matthew Coons

Recorded April 16, 2010 Archived April 16, 2010 39:43 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX006589


Malik Brooks (14) and his teacher Matthew Coons (28) talk about music, school and violence in the community.

Subject Log / Time Code

Malik plays a recording of his rap about violence, community and people’s different perspectives and lifestyles.
Malik came to school one day and that is when he met Matthew (Mr. Coons). He thought Matthew was kind of crazy at first.
Matthew was impressed with Malik’s confidence and expressiveness.
Malik talks about the boring ways that lessons are taught in school and the fun ways.
Malik talks about how he was supported in his music making by his uncle.
Malik looks up to Jay-Z as an artist and businessman.
Malik talks about how some teachers first found out about his music on the internet.
Malik talks about teen pregnancy and sex education.
Malik jokes that he learned about sex by using Google.
Matthew say the hardest part of being a teacher is realizing that he can’t keep his students safe all the time.
Matthew says he felt most helpless when a drive-by shooting recently took place in front of the school.
Malik talks about gun violence and the reasons why


  • Malik Brooks
  • Matthew Coons

Partnership Type




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00:15 Yeah.

00:25 Wake up in the morning.

00:28 Different questions, but most is why why they had the

00:33 Reaction

02:10 My name is Matthew Kuntz. I am 20 years old. Today's date is April 16th 2010. We are in New Orleans, Louisiana and I am talking today to Malik Brooks a student of mine at New Orleans College Prep. My name is Malik Brooks. I am 14 years old today's date is April 16th, 2010. We are currently located in New Orleans Louisiana my relationship to this my partner if I'm a student. He's my teacher.

02:42 Going to take it. You want me to kick it? Kick it. I like the outro. I was really good.

02:50 All right. I'm going to start talking about that because he know how can you know?

02:56 You talking a lot about killing on the Belt lot about crying in a lot about like sentimental stuff.

03:03 Any grounds for that was it just fictitious or you talking about your own experience? I mean is everyday life in my neighborhood where I stay where I live like every other day. You see somebody get married like nothing good is ever on the news. So I like I mean I watch it but it's like every time you watch so you kind of get disappointed of sad about what you see on it. So basically the song it was just saying,

03:32 It was just telling about life and also how

03:35 You can't judge like another person.

03:39 Unless you unless you were in that situation like you can't see what you would have done unless you would have liked so to each his own. He has his opinion about this and you can have your own who's to say the next man is wrong about it. So opinionated definition of the word for your idea.

03:57 And when you say where I stay you stay in Central City right now live in Century 3 Uptown through what?

04:07 Based on that. Do you think the media does it feel like

04:12 Catch people up on things or do you think they're doing it? Cuz they think it's cells

04:17 Like as far as like TV radio whatever it is.

04:22 I mean, I mean you say it cuz it happened. I mean just I said personally says like almost like a reminder I mean

04:30 Can really see.

04:33 I guess I guess it's both everything's a business they doing it cuz it sells because people want to watch it, but just to see what happened.

04:45 Imma Stay that out really seriously

04:52 Out now why you stayed out in La during the hurricane like evacuation evacuated right before like a year before and then I came back to New Orleans on summer vacation and I ran into Katrina to evacuate again. I'm going to Texas take the day off. So you evacuated on that Monday like after the storm hit right before the store right before the storm settled. I think that would have been Sunday what tell me a little bit about that. Go down. I was like 2 in the morning and my brother's girlfriend. She came and she pick me up or whatever cuz I was going to stay but she came and pick me up with going to go to Texas but her relatives two beers in a whole bunch of traffic for like 4 hours.

05:45 So we are all that was almost there is like a long time. We went then my brother called and he was like well come pick me up in 5 hours. Now. We have to go back and get pick my brother up by my dad's house and he got his ass. So we asked him. Who is that why you left he was he was like and that it wasn't tripping me. See ya the gun. He said that you think this is going to tell her cuz it's small everybody be thinking it's a 22 caliber is like in DC that it went off and shot. The gun in the floor is like no you're trying to prove a point with a chip in the flood by they come he shooting the holes in the floor that he can't we had to go pick him up. That was like, there's almost a kind of threw us off right that

06:38 And then you went back out to LA with the texts up and then I was in Texas for like two weeks before I went back to, California.

06:49 Mom was like where it is Shana what happened? You stayed with your dad out in California and my mother mother's out in California. And your dad was in New Orleans shooting Olson.

07:02 Pretty much

07:06 You're talking about kind of like parts of your parents relationship and we have this in common that our parents are divorced and that sort of thing we talked about it before but I wanted to step into a little bit of a difference of like with your parents like or at least your upbringing. What is it? Like and I know the first time you were in LA or what 9 + 9 where specifically is it in California Los Angeles proper. Is it to Los Angeles?

07:41 Is it different like each Community or in what ways is it different growing up in New Orleans in what ways has different being out in LA and Times of being separated from a parent more like just like once it's all right, select must think back to your song. Like do you find that now? I did he find that.

08:06 Out there

08:09 It seemed a lot more hectic because they were the gangs and stuff little devil running around butt out here. It's like no gangs. It's just like shooting random at around that's why you can't see it was gang violence did not organized but I thought that was like the whole bunch of games running around but they never really cared that too many people how many people got killed but it wasn't like I was here but use actually singing I heard gunshots every other day.

08:36 Eddie it is mostly ran around and was like sup cuz and swing around flags and stuff. I mean other than that like

08:48 It's pretty nice out there though houses and beaches and stuff. You don't really get that New Orleans is pretty out there.

08:58 Do you think it's a place you're going to end up? Where do you think you're you're born and bred you going to stay here? I don't want to go to California because of the earthquakes and stuff like when I grow up but then out here for games. I don't know probably end up in Texas on a earthquake stupid.

09:19 It's worse than weed on the sea level here and then, California.

09:24 I don't really know questions to early too early to tell don't buy into again and again.

09:31 Tai Chi talking. Do you have any idea anything yet?

09:38 Play Skype question

09:45 Who's Sky Skies another student. She's a female that goes to New Orleans College Prep.

09:55 What was the question?

09:59 I know we can marinate on it for a little while.

10:08 Yeah, I came to school one day and a matter fact. He brought us in a Roman said everybody down and chairs. We was trying to get to know each other everybody all the students see attitude how the teachers acted and who everybody was and see what everybody was individually. I know.

10:34 The cones this is crazy guy.

10:37 Curly hair that made jokes and made funny voices. I don't know. He was crazy. And then I got them late. I had them last year. Then he came back this year the teacher again. I don't know he keeps coming.

10:52 And then for my part.

10:56 I've been teaching in New Orleans for a number of years and then my old school clothes went to New Orleans college prep. And one of my first classes was teaching a reading class, which is I think what Malik was referring to cuz I'm usually social studies teacher but because the school where Malik is enrolled and where I teach a lot of students are pretty far behind than 5 reading levels, we have to have all the teachers teacher reading class. I was fortunate enough to have a an upper level reading class were able to read good books and actually sit down and have real life discussions about life and stuff in the fact that this trailer shaking.

11:44 Depression Malik when you met him Malik, I was very impressed with just Malek's ability to kind of put his thoughts out there for you. I mean Malik was 13 last year, maybe even 12 when I met you. Thanks so much week is very outspoken but not in terms of like a look at me outspoken. He's like very confident. I mean far more so than most most middle-schoolers Malik is also very

12:16 Very thoughtful in a lot of his interactions with people. He's not necessarily, you know, the most flamboyant he's pretty confident in terms of like what he needs to say and what he needs to do and if he's not there he's you know, he's minding his own. So thank you mister come now. I just want to see if I can make you blush.

12:42 What kind of crazy?

12:44 I was wondering if you could give us a few examples of your first encounters with him. I took a while to really see what he was cuz he had like it was the mood swings but it was I guess it's like a teacher thing or something. Like he'll be playful and laughing or whatever and like joke with you and then like if something if somebody does something like that that's just like Breaks the Rules or something. He just gets all serious and it's like, okay. That's how you want it. That's how everybody wanted to write. Well now we're going back to the barn with laying in Lawrenceville.

13:23 What were some crazy stuff you do?

13:28 The boring we was

13:31 Here's the packet now tell me how the British like maps and play Jeopardy with us and play actually interact. So some days depending on how the students AT&T Church differently.

13:53 Do you think?

13:56 Are the boring way?

13:58 The boring way especially science

14:02 That's just because science has last year science was fun in the barn way to don't know why.

14:12 Now it's just like here's a packet lying about atoms.

14:18 As far as musical inspirations

14:23 Who really like

14:24 Turn down the music.

14:27 Music

14:29 So is artist. I just people in general whichever one comes to mind first. I had to say probably my uncle.

14:38 That was bored one day and I was going to just heard like a lot of songs on the radio to make my own song. I got like a laptop and download some free software and put a beat on it and basically recorded like a rough draft of a song and I played it for my uncle and he was like man you playing but you probably can really get into this you sound really good. So ever since then I just been kind of doing it and upgrading my equipment actually got some condenser mics and stuff.

15:14 Would you consider as far as professional musicians? I mean, do you have like a role model as far as that and do you think your uncle is that same uncle is like your role model role model. I wouldn't say he's not roll. Sorry, but I don't.

15:32 Artist role models

15:36 I probably say Jay-Z.

15:38 Simply because if he doesn't just stick the music he has a business aspect of it's also and really I don't think I want to rap forever. I just want to get some money so I can spread my

15:55 You know, I'm trying to say I forget to work, but I was trying to just

16:05 Manicure Legacy as far as like just my

16:15 Jobs, like job title smite

16:18 Professor wide my perspective of influence

16:23 I don't know pause moment. So it's not just rap. I just need some money to start everything also really want to get into it anything else. So is that what excites you the most though music music?

16:51 What are some of the things do you like to photograph?

16:55 Humans, babies babies a fun cuz you never know what they're going to do and you got the other day. I actually work with them and sometimes it could be kind of hard because they cry but it works out and it's a good pay so.

17:16 What about you miss that comes with your music?

17:19 What about how did I turn into it as far as music? I listen to?

17:28 One of the first band that really turned around I can remember like being like three or four years old. Even younger maybe two or three. I can remember riding in my parents car in like actually getting the chills by a song like, you know, when you get the chills now when you hear like something like maybe the first time when like you hear your own music on the speakers and you like oh that sounds good. There's like something that runs up the back or spine sometimes wait for it. I can remember hearing Paul Simon's the boxer and it has like that's really cool. Like like in the middle of the course. There's just like this huge like bass drum hit and I was just like, I just remember that I like being like 3 years old and just like

18:10 Being able to hear me before I mean, it was early 80s and it wasn't necessary that I want to do that but I was like wow this music thing.

18:21 You know just that it could have that sort of emotional reaction that you could get affected by just hearing something like that, but I wouldn't say I got into music music until middle school. I didn't really pick up anything until my dad was an insurance guy and he had like he would go to other people's places in like if so the tree falls on your house who would go to those people's house and make sure you're like the company pays for it and sometimes things get destroyed in the process. So we had this old drum set sitting in the basement of one of his work sites, and I was walking through one day. I was home from school or something and I was walking through

19:03 His basement and saw drum set and I was like

19:08 I think I could grab that and yes, his employers picked it up and brought home a couple weeks later and I just started turn it on.

19:18 Doing that. I'm trying out different ways to play on the keys and then picked up a guitar to him. So, how was your first gig? How's my first gig was probably a nice cool playing at like some cafeteria, but I can't remember specifically I was probably like like band concert. But yeah, it was so bad and people are just sitting in the audience. But you know that's high school, you know, you just kind of keep going and going and going actually, you know it that was a lie. The first gay guy ever played was seventh grade. I played the drums to James Taylor's Fire and Rain.

20:03 Chorus there something I play the drums for chorus cuz I sang in that Band 2 and then my voice changed like I was like, I'll high like I doing Billy Joel's something-or-other river dreams in the middle of the night.

20:33 Anyway, there's music for me. How did they feel like for them to just be like all the swag like, you know, I think you got to just kind of brush your shoulders. I mean, I'm sure people say that, you know, it's just part of growing up people always ready for certain things.

20:54 And if you let them catch you then, you know if they're going to take your art for me and then on that doesn't work like that. So, you know you song was bad that you would you say your phone was the one my voice cracked love me like when you were performing. No, not necessarily. It's like one of those things that like you have to sit there and you have to have thick skin about it. You got to say. Oh, yeah, you think it's bad. Well, that's your opinion. First of all, I don't really like you is it? Yeah, I like it.

21:30 There's a good message that song to it's kind of cool that you're you're making it relevant. But I mean that goes back to what I was saying as far as like your ability to think a little bit larger than most typical 14 year olds. I mean most 14 year olds are you know at school writing sets or you know worried about when they're going to eat Chinese noodles next door, you know some girl that got a crush on and instead you writing a song about like

21:58 Some high-level stuff. Yeah, I didn't want the song to be limited just to like certain situation that could be about any opinion about anyting politics of what burger taste the best buy anything same one just to be limited and that's an Incredibles perspective to have as a 14 year old. I mean earlier when we are filling out that you know that the waiver, you know for religion. I actually checked off every box not because I'm like everyone is great in the eyes of God. But you know, it's like to each his own and I was like, I don't really prescribed to something. I mean not to bring religion into this like that, but

22:40 I think Everyone's entitled to their own opinion in my opinion is just that like God does his thing. Like everyone has the same God they all rock around. However, they translate it but to each his own like

22:53 Prophetic

22:55 How did the two of you realize that you had music in car?

23:01 Well, I stayed at some type of way that the teachers went on the internet and found me.

23:12 And brought it to my attention. It was like well, you should do something for the school then write a song for the school. I was like, all right, so I wrote a song for the school and then I performed in front of school and then I guess I ever since then he brought it to his attention. They brought it to me as I do not I do music to played in bands and stuff. So ever since then we've been on the same level.

23:39 I don't know. They think must just got bored one night and went Google crazy.

23:45 Who was it? It was in 6th grade. I live out. There was a lot of them after after I had them did it they had me performing multiple times. So he's still feeling that category, but I don't know who it was. I think some students must have said something to a teacher and was like you all to go check them out or something, but

24:09 They basically went online and found me.

24:13 What are you doing talking about this did they really call you out on that? Really? That's actually something that I wanted to talk to you about and I haven't talked to students.

24:33 No, it's the fact that like you're able to just as far as being like I wouldn't necessarily a participant in Black Culture in New Orleans. But like as a casual Observer that's really casual. It's kind of my life, but I'm obviously on the outside of it, but seeing how much parents swear how much adults wear their kids, you know be this be that easy. This is just like it's ramp. I mean new great right and maybe she has a bad attitude in like a parent to come in you like she's the carbon copy of her mom like really so mean teachers me of that time when I go

25:19 Apple doesn't fall far from the tree. You know, how are you able to turn off that though? I mean, obviously, I mean, I think we talked about this at one point and reading I told you guys that like I swore once in front of my mom when I was like 13 and I got trip rollerblading and I swore and like she threatened the life of me. How are you able to turn off swearing? Like when you're out on the street you're out with your friends, you hear it constantly and then you come into school and you can check it at the door. I don't know. It's just it's just me. Like I change my personality V the location where I'm at how I'm supposed to be acting like you can't act the same everywhere. I mean, you can't you need to ask yourself, but some stuff just isn't acceptable and certain places. I miss you go to a restaurant. You're not going to be all loud and obnoxious. I mean, it's just one of those things.

26:15 I think everybody swears are you can't say you haven't ever it's just who you around who you talkin to of my who my audience is like when the song talkin to people might hate him. I wasn't talkin to the teachers to excite you chose to listen to the song.

26:31 You know.

26:35 Have you ever performed live?

26:37 Knife, that is not it like a place like not like in the concert anything in front the school about it though, really good performance school and then what that felt like

26:55 Fabulous song

26:58 It was funny cuz I threw like some jokes in it and about with other teachers on the song It's a you know, anybody was relating to me. So it wasn't like all that's what it was like laughing with me and not at Men actually relate laughing at the teachers. So they're pretty cool and everybody like that me off after wasn't was like that was was up you got to do that more often because the school was kind of boring so

27:23 Nice, do you think school is more boring now than when you started.

27:30 I mean when I first started, you know, you didn't know anybody. So, of course it's going to be a little more live now, since you have people and you guys actually communicate with that, you know, but

27:44 What I didn't like about the school since it was new rules change constantly because they always trying to perfect it and see how which would worked on the students. So

27:55 Now it's kind of more stable as far as rules go, but it's still kind of changed whenever y'all feel the need to but yes a little bit more fun than when I started.

28:06 Do you like coming to school?

28:10 Some days

28:13 Some days, I don't feel like getting up other days. I'm like, I don't I don't have I don't have anything in it anything else to do.

28:20 Might as well go learn something talk lunch people my age be in the house bored all day.

28:31 When most people did school what do you think they do?

28:35 No, I know you got to call me out on this. I mean.

28:46 Go to the go back home. Some people might go back home go to sleep watch TV or something when they parents at work, some people might go by girlfriend's house or something. I don't know. I never did School personally.

29:01 Talking about boyfriend girlfriend relations. I'm not going to get all intense Island on personal face, but we now have like, you know, I think they're for girls at their school now who are pregnant.

29:19 Approach that from your perspective like knowing me being a like and who cares if I'm a teacher. How do you feel about the fact that like four of your classmates are going to have kids?

29:30 I see it's like it's sad because they're so young. But then it's like at the same time boys like me are the reason that they got that way so it's like

29:43 You said it shouldn't happen but then it's like I could have been a part of it so I can but I mean it shouldn't be that they should learn to use protection birth control or something at the age if they're going to do it.

29:58 Is anyone teaching than that? No, not really. A lot of people people came to me. Like I said, why don't you just Google it Google the answer to everything in me. Not like I'm like, I'm a doctor for real. Can you can you get AIDS from oral sex? I don't think so. You get like genital herpes, but you know,

30:27 It's one of the things going on right now on hormones teenagers. Don't mix well.

30:36 Are you saying that there isn't sex education at your school? I think they I think they going to start it when later on the girls just started the girls just starting to start the boys yet.

30:49 What do you think about that? Do you think that it should be in school?

30:55 Yeah for the most part and I mean kids they're going to they're going to do it. Anyway, you might as well know what they're doing what they how they could mess up or what could possibly happen people just saying you could do it. Nothing's going to happen. Like oh I know about AIDS but that's never going to happen to me. Who do you think should be responsible for telling like who told you about the birds and the bees OK Google the internet is awesome. If you know what you looking up some people just get on there and look at music videos all day and get on my space, but I do a lot of research on all type of random stuff. So

31:36 They helped me.

31:38 Why do you think your classmates go to you?

31:43 Cuz they know cuz they hear me talkin about a lot of stuff and then like oh, well Malik nose like when you just came pulled me from

31:52 The thing at the park near the logic contest we are having like a contest with Logix in like answers to questions is like no you can't take him we need him. So it I guess they figure I'm smart. So it came to me with it. I'm like, dr. Phil to the children. I don't I don't know where you look just like him. I don't know about you have anymore questions for me. I have a couple for you, but we have got like 10 minutes.

32:26 I got 40 already. I thought I was going to run out of stuff to talk about kind of float easy.

32:34 You

32:36 Is it like being a teacher is like a lot of stress? Like I know y'all hear about like a lot of conversations from students in like what's going on and y'all can't ever tell anybody anything about it. What is that like?

32:51 In terms of weah, can't tell anyone about what so like specifically if you hear something by a student say then that's like say it loud. I'm just going to I got the boy. It's like this boy is going with another girl and you know it cuz you like in the KU you pick up notes or something. I don't know what y'all do what and then you got this guy. She likes a good student and he's cheating on her, whatever and you just like yeah, then you like you can't say anything about it. You just I mean

33:28 Sometimes it's not your place. Like if you have a relationship with that student, like if you for instance if you were dating a girl and then I found out through a note that I found on the floor that you know, you were going around behind some other girl's back. I would obviously sit down and talk to you cuz I can reason with you and I know that like if I sit down and talk to you you'll get it but the same with another student to be like, oh, yeah, okay. Mr. Coons. Okay. Alright and then they go out back and then go with that girl. Anyway, you know what I'm saying? So it depends on the student.

34:02 It's stressful. It is very stressful. But that's the least stressful part. Like I mean teenagers are going to be teenagers they're going to do their thing. I think the thing that bothers teachers the most. Is that like

34:16 When you go home, I can't keep you safe. You know, I'm saying like we see you all day. We see you like 10 hours a day, like all the students but at the very end of the day like

34:29 You know what goes on in Central City or what goes on in my neighborhood or what goes on anyway, like

34:35 I have no way to keep you safe. Like when you go home and it's scary as teacher cuz like I work really hard.

34:43 But there's only so much you can do it brings up some when they miss case. She's another teacher she at the school. She came up to me. She's like leak DD. How do you get home? How do you walk at? Can you just like take another route so you don't have to walk through the neighborhoods that what you mean? Cuz I I just don't want you to get your shot. I know it's dangerous around him. Chill out do this everyday. I know you were that worried about us.

35:14 Really weird. I mean the most help us have ever felt as a teacher at our school was the day like 3 months ago in that drive-by happened right in front of the school, but I don't know what class were you in that day? I told him it was a gun.

35:32 But that's good on you like that. You did that cuz I mean I have both windows open in my classroom all day letting in some Breeze and I was in the middle of teaching in the middle of talking and just like Rapids. I like a cat... I heard two as I got her two separate two separate guns.

35:50 And for the first time I was like, I don't know what to do. Like I can't I can't keep you safe. Like I can't.

35:59 Always take that element out of your life.

36:02 So that's that's the most stressful part of my job.

36:08 Yeah, we have like 5 minutes.

36:11 They should try to send me out of that class. What's when it should when they were shooting at jump on the ground like 12 13 lb, hop, hop hop hop like a jackhammer you made a big Interruption like a big distraction then like what 5 minutes later they call it was like we can't dismiss the kids out of that way cuz I do today. So I was like, yes, I mean it wasn't good but I didn't get in trouble. How do you have that background in in Weaponry? Like, how could you tell that? I was in a k Stanley going to go have Uptown the shooting like that sell rifle that Papa.

37:07 Do you hear that on a nightly basis every couple nights is not usually a k but you might see one every now and then.

37:20 Why everybody just having a trunk?

37:24 And if I so easy to get

37:28 Why does everyone carry one around because do you think it's something for protection or everyone carries one around cuz everyone else carries one around?

37:35 I miss probably both some people feeling irritation some other people. Just want to be cool with us up my own butt.

37:44 I know a lot of people carry Keys then it's like legally you can get one when you turn 18 so.

37:50 You know, but then illegally because like $200 so it's like

37:57 Everybody has one.

37:59 When you turn 18

38:02 But will I get one? Sure. Might I might and I might not ride ride. It wouldn't fit in my car. But if I'm at my house with it and I have family but I might have one then when I turn 21 I go legally get my handgun.

38:18 Do you think that's solving the problem or adding to the problem?

38:24 The Gods

38:26 If you take them away, there will be no problem. But let me know probably just be fighting the stabbing each other but something but

38:34 If you want to put innocent people trying to protect their family at a wealth or whatever the property.

38:40 I guess it's helping them if the police don't always show up that way show up at the wrong times. I harassed you.

38:48 So

38:50 Got to protect yourself.

38:53 Do you see any way for it to end?

38:57 Finance

39:00 It's mostly drug-related.

39:02 And not going to stop drug dealers as long as it drug uses. You need to get the people off drugs.

39:12 Making drugs illegal is not stopping it actually still getting it. So you need to put the fuel in a rehab will try to get him some type of help.

39:21 It's about the only way it's going to stop no demand. No Supply.

39:28 Stop the violence.

39:30 All right, we got to wrap up.

39:34 Thanks. Alright, thank you. Mr. Koontz. Thank you.