We all hate Harvard, but in 2006, a Bonesman put his disdain into words when he rapped these lyrics in a “Fuck Harvard” pre-Game anthem:
“Fuck the Game, yo, I’m ready for guerilla war instead of it / I’ll cut your throat if you ever step up into Connecticut / I swear to my moms, I swear to any god, that I’ll drop an atom bomb directly in Harvard Yard.”
Gabe Hernandez ’07 admits he and his hip-hop group 108 Tongues “went overboard and made ill-advised lyrics” during that year’s installment of the annual “Fuck Harvard” song, but the controversy caused by the undergraduates’ lyrics was representative of Hernandez’s approach to his Yale career — when he did something, he did it big.
These days, Hernandez rarely indulges in such showmanship. Since 108 Tongues no longer collaborates, Hernandez’s future is unlikely to be in the music industry. Instead, he plans to follow in his parents’ footsteps, both educators, by pursuing a career in teaching. He spent his first year after graduation earning his master’s degree with the Yale Urban Teaching Program, a one-year master’s program followed by a two-year stint teaching in a New Haven public school. Now a high school history teacher, Gabe is still making the transition from student to adult life.
Hernandez said he has lost Yale in pieces, not in “one fell swoop.”
“It’s weird,” he said. “Last year, I still pre-gamed with friends and ate in HGS [Hall of Graduate Studies]. It was a bridge between Yale and real life. It’s hit me officially now that I am on my own.”
Being outside the confines of HGS or Davenport, his residential college, Hernandez said nourishment and social interactions have been the two biggest adjustments he has had to make as a New Haven resident.
“I can’t cook,” he said. “I don’t even know how long to put things in the microwave — it’s absolutely disastrous. You go from an all-you-can-eat buffet for five years and then all of a sudden you have to provide for yourself.”
Another adjustment for Hernandez has been incorporating friends that he did not know in his undergraduate days into his social circle. There are a few other Yale College grads around in the city with whom Hernandez still associates, but many of his friends were in last year’s class of graduating seniors. He still treks through Old Campus and Cross Campus every weekday on his commute to the Cooperative Arts and Humanities Interdistrict Magnet School, and he said he occasionally runs into students he led in FPC or younger students he knew in Davenport.
“They’re like, “What the hell are you still doing here? You were a senior when I was a freshman!” he joked.
But on the whole, Hernandez has shifted his gaze from the staples of undergraduate life towards what the greater New Haven area has to offer.
Trips to Toad’s?
“Absolutely not,” he commented. “I might go to Toad’s for a hip-hop concert, but it’s such a scene of undergraduate sloppiness.”
Even if the old crew has left, though, Hernandez has found ways to keep busy. In May, he was one of 13 recipients of the Seton-Elm Ivy Award, an award given to New Haven residents and Yale students who take strides in bridging the gap between the city and the Yale community. Hernandez says that this bridging of communities was important to him even as an undergraduate — and even as a rapper. The issues at the focus of Hernandez’s music, after all — gang violence, homelessness, homicide, to name a few — were all taken from problems plaguing the New Haven community.
Jason Chu ’08, a fellow member of 108 Tongues, said Hernandez was a controversial character, but always had a reason for offending people.
“He has always been about starting a lot of discussion,” Chu said. “I think that’s always been his goal, starting discussion and drawing attention to issues through provoking people.”
After all this community work, though, Hernandez’s days in New Haven are numbered. After he completes his two-year teaching responsibilities, he said it’s likely that he will move to the New York area to be closer to his mother.
While Hernandez may not always call the Have home, he said he appreciates the opportunities the city has afforded him and the opportunities he has had to give back.
“New Haven is a truly wonderful place,” he said.