Spoken word teacher rich in musical talent


Photo courtesy of Christian Robinson

Music has always been an integral part of different cultures and lifestyles. People imbue their music with personality, found through various experiences, like relationships. Music has become a way for people to connect with others to create communities. Christian Robinson, an OPRF graduate and one of the current OPRF Spoken Word teachers, has brought people together with his music and personality. Robinson and his music are growing in popularity; he has worked and performed with big-name artists like Chance the Rapper, Noname, Saba, and more.

During his time at OPRF, he joined the Spoken Word club and was a member of a small rap collective. Robinson said his time doing Spoken Word in high school was instrumental in developing his career as a musician and in his decision to become a Spoken Word teacher at OPRF.

Robinson graduated from OPRF in 2011 and was admitted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison through the First Wave scholarship program, a one-of-a-kind hip-hop and rap scholarship program offered to 15 UW-Madison students. Through this program, he furthered his interest in music and began to consider music as a career. After graduating college, he worked at both Julian and Brooks, implementing Spoken Word clubs at both schools. In January of 2018, Robinson started at OPRF.

Following the release of his album “Nimbus” in 2015, Robinson began to do more shows and productions in Madison. Throughout his developing career, Robinson has been attracting people of different ages with “genre-blending music and incorporation of poetry.” He also tries to include different eras of music into his works. In terms of writing, he does the majority himself but turns to his coworker and friend Peter Kahn to make sure everything is polished.

First meeting Robinson as a student in 2007, the two now work closely together as co-coaches of the OPRF slam team and sponsors of the OPRF Spoken Word club. Kahn describes Robinson as a positive person who operates with integrity and gives off positive energy. Kahn said he believes that Robinson’s music is vulnerable, which is what makes people want to listen to it.

Jalen Sharp, an OPRF senior and student of Robinson, describes him as a motivational person and someone anyone can look up to. “Everyone loves Mr. Robinson,” he said.

The kind of motivational person that Sharp describes presents itself in the name Robinson chose to brand himself with: Rich Robbins.

“The name ‘Rich’… challenges the idea of being rich in hip-hop,” Robinson said. “I feel very rich in a way that’s not money-wise, but in my education. I feel very rich in the relationships I have with my friends and family,” he added. “My relationships with my students I think is a very rich one.”

Robinson released his most recent album, “On The Horizon,” on June 4. His music can be found on all streaming platforms. Robinson currently has over 3,400 monthly listeners on Spotify and has gathered a hefty 1.1 million listens on his most popular track “Dreams” (feat. Mick Jenkins). All of his tracks emphasize specific, unique points that have personal meaning.

“I want people walking away feeling a lot more refreshed than when they came into the space that is my music…I try to write my music in a way that reflects on myself so that you can reflect on yourself,” Robinson said.