History and Practice of Hip-Hop

Department: Visual Arts

Instructor: Leon Lee
Instructor's Email: leonleesfc@gmail.com
Prerequisites: none 

Course Description

This course explores Hip-Hop history and culture with a focus on race, gender, popular culture and the politics of creative expression and resistance. We will examine the sociopolitical conditions that first led to the emergence of Hip-Hop in the 1980s as well as the ways it gets taken up today. Students will embody this cultural knowledge by practicing the art of rap and poetry and organizing a live performance for their final project.

Content and Evaluation

Students will be responsible for engaging course materials (readings, videos, songs, and various in-class and assigned texts). There will be daily in-class reflective assignments and a final performance.

Topical Outline

Week 1: History, The Elements and Principles of Hip-Hop (the WHO, WHAT and the WHY)

  • History of Hip-Hop as a cultural medium and subculture
  • Review different elements of Hip-Hop—dance, MC, graffiti, and music
  • Exploration of the political and socioeconomic conditions that led to the emergence of Hip-Hop since the 1980s

Week 2: The ways Hip-Hop gets taken up currently and how to sue it (the HOW)

  • Commodification of Hip-Hop -- How is Hip-Hop taken up today? What are its potentials for social justice?
  • Gendering the analysis -- Who’s voices are heard? Who’s aren’t? Why?
  • Practicing and rehearsing elements of Hip-Hop—How to tell your own stories through rap and poetry

Week 3: Hip-Hop Praxis (theory in action)

  • Writing workshops and rehearsals
  • Putting on a show – introduction to working with audio and video equipment for live performance and documentation
  • Reflections and debriefs