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UNCW grad student uses hip hop as therapy tool

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A UNCW grad student's name may not be familiar to you, but his alias Kon Sci has been making waves in the local music scene for the years.

In just a few days he will be graduating with his masters in social work after combining his love for music and working with troubled kids.

He might not look like your average hip hop hipster, but Joseph Latterner is passionate about hip hop music. Over the past three semesters he has been reaching out to at-risk teenagers through hip hop therapy.

"For me it's genuine, and I think that sort of radiates with the kids, because I am not afraid to freestyle with them," Latterner said.

Latterner grew up outside of Washington, DC, in a urban neighborhood. That's where he says he learned about the art of music.

"When I had an opportunity to work with kids in a group therapeutic setting, I somehow wanted to introduce something creative, something music-based, and I thought there has got to be some way to introduce hip hop into the therapeutic setting," he said.

He says he has enjoyed breaking down racial barriers and connecting with students in a way they understand and relate to.

"They get a chance to introduce music," Latterner said. "They are at a residential setting with a lot of structure and a lot of rules and expectations. So when we enter into the picture, we are setting up this platform for them to be able to introduce things they are interested in like hip hop music."

Latterner has traveled across the country speaking about hip hop therapy and its benefits.

After graduation he will continue this unique therapy as he pursues his license in clinical social work.

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