Hip-Hop 101: Cram to Understand

We’re still figuring our feet in the world of Hip-hop. Ice-T’s The Art of Rap gives us a glimpse of the multifaceted role of the emcee, but this week’s readings help expand the roots and reach of the culture. From our textbook, That’s the Joint!, we have Nelson George’s “Hip-Hop’s Founding Fathers Speak the Truth” (Chapter 4; pp. 43-55), which is a three-way interview with Afrika Bambaataa, Kool DJ Herc, and Grand Master Flash. Then there’s Greg Tate’s “Hip-hop Turns 30: Whatcha Celebratin’ For?” (Chapter 6; pp. 63-74).

In addition, Tricia Rose‘s classic text Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (1994) is a crash course in Hip-hop’s origins and the scope of its influence. Russel A Potter’s Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism (1995) pushes the vision further. The chapters we’re reading from each provide a wider introduction to the cultural implications of beats, rhythms, and rhymes.

Here’s MC Lyte’s “I Cram to Understand U”  from 1988:

As ever, post your thoughts on the readings below.


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Screening: The Art of Rap

This week we’re going to screen Ice-T’s 2012 documentary, Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap. Here’s the trailer:

I know that if you know Ice-T, you probably know him as Detective Fin Tutuola on Law & Order: SVU, but he’s been at this rap thing for a long time. You can also check out my review of his documentary.

The readings for next week (September 9th), are up on Blackboard. I was late getting them to you, and I figured we could all use an extra week to get into this stuff, so I switched them for the movie. There are two book chapters: one by Tricia Rose and one by Russell Potter. We will be discussing them in depth next week, so get to it.

“Hip-hop didn’t invent anything; Hip-hop reinvented everything.”
– Grandmaster Caz

For extra special treats and tweets, follow the class’s Twitter.

After we watch it, you can post your thoughts on the documentary below. Peace.


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Hello, Fellow Hip-Hop Heads

Welcome to our WordPress site. This is where you will post your reading responses. Please see the syllabus for rules, regulations, and requirements.

Here is an overview of a few of the things we’ll be studying this semester:


Filed under General