Hip Hop syllabus: AME/MUS 303 Hip Hop: art, culture, and politics.

Author:Hentges, Sarah

"Hip-Hop is More than Just Music to Me. It's the vehicle I hope will someday lead us to change."

--Gwendolyn Pough, Check It While I Wreck It

Hip is to know It's a form of intelligence To be hip is to be update and relevant Hop is a form of movement You can't just observe a hop You gotta hop up and do it ... --KRS-One and Marley Marl, "Hip Hop Lives"

"I love the art of hip hop, I don't always love the message ... Art can't just be a rear view mirror--it should have a headlight out there, according to where we need to go."

--Jay-Z fan, American President Barack Obama

University of Maine at Augusta

College of Arts & Sciences

Professor Sarah Hentges



Hip Hop is an umbrella term for art, music, dance, literature, identity, style and politics. We will begin to understand the art, culture, and politics of Hip Hop by looking at the movements and politics that inspired the birth of Hip Hop as a form of art and music. We will consider the art and aesthetics of Hip Hop and the musical styles that made Hip Hop music possible. Students will create a piece of art or music inspired by Hip Hop. The ways in which Hip Hop speaks to youth and speaks about oppression, violence, identity, culture, and power will also be considered. We will then explore Hip Hop as a form of cultural politics and activism toward social justice. Students will create art or music toward Hip Hop inspired social justice. Finally, we'll consider the possibilities of a Hip Hop future. 3 credits. Prerequisite: AME 201 OR MUS XXX OR ENG 102 OR permission of instructor.


The colloquium theme chosen for the 2011-2012 school year is revolution. This theme is fitting to the subject, motives, forms, critiques and actions inspired by Hip Hop. Thus, we will consider the revolutionary aspects of Hip Hop (as well as the challenges to Hip Hop's revolutionary qualities and visions). One of the most obvious ways that we will consider this theme is through the ways in which Hip Hop challenges oppression and creates counter-narratives to dominant misrepresentations and lack of representation in public life. We will also consider the many revolutionary aspects of Hip Hop art, culture, and politics as well as specific artists, albums, or songs that speak to, and about, revolution.

For instance:

Lupe Fiasco, Lasers; Immortal Technique, Revolutionary Volume 1 and 2; The Coup, Pick a Bigger Weapon and Party Music; Dead Prez, "Revolutionary But Gangsta"; Sarah Jones, "Your Revolution (Will Not Happen Between These Thighs)"; Payday Monsanto, "Revolution."


Students will:

Develop an understanding of the ways in which Hip Hop has been shaped by the experiences of African Americans and other oppressed groups in the U.S. and the ways in which the U.S. (and cultures around the world) have been influenced by Hip Hop. Understand the various elements that comprise Hip Hop as well as the variety of forms that Hip Hop takes Develop an appreciation of the cultural, political, and artistic value of Hip Hop Understand the nuances of mainstream Hip Hop, conscious rap and underground Hip Hop Create Hip Hop inspired art, music, and activist projects Develop critical thinking and writing skills as well as skills of observation, synthesis, and connection COURSE RESOURCES

Dalton Higgins, Hip Hop World (a Groundwork Guide).

Gwendolyn Pough, et al., eds. Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip Hop Feminism Anthology.

Jeff Chang, ed. Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop.

In addition to these books, Blackboard (BB) will include a number of resources each week, primarily links to YouTube videos and related websites as well as weekly power point "lecture" videos that review the course material for the week and how it connects to the previous week's material as well as the class as a whole. BB will also be the space where you will submit all of your work and engage in conversation with other students, and this is where you will find the pertinent information for class.


Weekly Blog Postings and Comments

All Weekly Blog postings and comments are due by the end of the day on Sunday. There are 13 BLOGS possible and students will be required to submit at least 10 weekly BLOG postings. (Consider that this counts toward your "in-class" time.) Each weekly BLOG is worth 4...

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