Anthropology of Hip-Hop in a Global Perspective
Dr. Melisa Rivière
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The course covers the historical trajectory of hip-hop from its inception in the post-civil rights era of New York City during1970’s in the form of four elements – break dancing, rap, turntablism, and graffiti art – to its contemporary identity as a global youth phenomenon. The historical development of hip-hop is accompanied with the analysis of scholarly works ranging from contemporary academic research to old-school rap lyrics. Literature, lectures, legal cases, films and multi-media projects individually analyze each element and question the four-element paradigm that defines hip-hop today. The course looks at the role gender, class, and race play in the use of hip-hop as a tool for social change while simultaneously acting as a corporate marketing device. The course aims to re-structure stereotypes and offer a deeper perspective into how hip-hop defines the identities of individuals as well as the consciousness of masses.
Anthropology of Hip-Hop breaks down the course into nine distinct sections: (1) Legendary Roots, (2) “Hip-Hop!” the Four Elements and Pop Culture, (3) The New Revolution & Gangster Rap, (4) Rap and the Law, (5) Race & Class Politics of Hip-Hop, (6) Turntablism & Production, (7) Bling Bling: Hip-Hop Consumerism, (8) Gender/Sexuality, and (9) Global Hip-Hop. Guest speakers and local hip-hop artists are incorporated into the course so as to contribute to an ongoing dialogue between academia and the community.
- SECT 1: Legendary Roots:
Introductions, class format, and expectations
The urban context – the South Bronx
The political context – Post-civil rights era.
Film scenes from: Chalfant, Henry & Fecher, Rita. 1993. Flying Cut Sleeves. New York: Sleeping Dog Films.
Discussion: Hip-Hop’s big bang – “Rapper’s Delight” vs. “The Message”
Ch. 1-3. Chang, Jeff. 2005. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. St. Martin’s Press: New York
Rose, Tricia. 1999. “Voices from the Margins: Rap Music and Contemporary Black Cultural Production” In Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Connecticut: Wesleyan University.
Austin, Joe. 2001. “Writing Graffiti in the Public Sphere: The Construction of Writing as an Urban Problem.” Taking the Train: Youth, Urban Crisis, Graffiti. New York: Columbia University Press.
The urban context continued: voices from the margins
Film: Chalfant, Henry and Silver, Tony.1984. Style Wars. New York: Plexifilms.
- SECT 2: “Hip-Hop!” the Four Elements and Pop Culture
Austin, Joe. 2001. “The State of the Subways: The Transit Crises, the Aesthetics of Fear and the second ‘War on Graffiti.'” Taking the Train: Youth, Urban Crisis, Graffiti. New York: Columbia University Press.
Ch. 4 – 7. Chang, Jeff. 2005. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. St. Martin’s Press: New York
McGuigan, Athleen and Uehling, Mark d., et. al. “Breaking Out: America Goes Dancing” In Newsweek. July 2, 1984
Film scenes from:
Ahearn, Charlie. 1984. Wild Style. Los Angeles: Rhino Entertainment Company
Television program: Graffiti Rock
Lyne, Adriane. 1983. Flashdance. New York: Paramount Pictures.
Lathan, Stan.1984. Beat Street. New York: Orion Pictures.
Ch. 8-10. Chang, Jeff. 2005. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. St. Martin’s Press: New York
Flores, Juan. 2000 “Puerto Rock” In From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity. New York: Columbia University Press..
Hazzard-Donald, Katrina. 2004. “Dance in Hip-Hop Culture” In That’s the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. Forman, Murray and Neal, Mark Anthony [ed.]. Routledge: New York
Rivera, Raquel. 2003. “Its Just Begun” and “Whose Hip-Hop?: The Late 1980’s and Early 1990’s”New York Ricans from the Hip-Hop Zone. Palgrave Macmillan: New York.
Puerto Rico, Puerto Rock
Break dance, locking and popping
Film scenes from:
‘Israel.’2001. The Freshest Kids. California: Brotherhood Films.
Silberg, Joel. 1984. Breakin’ New York: MGM/UA and the Cannon Group
Firstenberg, David. 1984. Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. MGM/UA
- SECT 3: The New Revolution & Gangster Rap
ESSAY #1 DUE
Ch 11 – 13. Chang, Jeff. 2005. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. St. Martin’s Press: New York.
Public Enemy #1
Anti-apartheid in South Africa and Sun City – AUAA “Sun City”
RUN-DMC at Live Aid
Ch 14 – 16. Chang, Jeff. 2005. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. St. Martin’s Press: New York.
Rose, Tricia. 1999. “Prophets of Rage: Rap Music and the Politics of Black Cultural Expression.” In Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Connecticut: Wesleyan University.
Watts, Eric K. 2004. “An Exploration of Spectacular Consumption: Gangsta Rap as Cultural Commodity.” In That’s the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. Forman, Murray and Neal, Mark Anthony [ed.]. Routledge: New York
Public Enemy, NWA, X-Clan, Queen Latifah
Group discussion: “Illegal Search” (LL Cool J) & “Who Protects Us from You?” (KRS-One).
The new gangsta vs. the global gangsta.
- SECT 4: Rap and the Law
Clark, Anne L. “As Nasty As They Wanna Be: Popular Music on Trial.” New York University Law Review. November 1990; 65 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1481
Davidson, Bill (The Estate Of) V. Time Warner, Inc., Tupac Amaru Shakur. 1992. Interscope Records, East West Records America, A Division Of Atlantic Recording Corporation Civil Action No. V-94-006
Glassner, Barry. 2003. “Rap Music and the Culture of Fear.” Entertainment and Sports Lawyer. Spring issue. Vol. 21, n. 1.
Kahan, Jeffrey, B. “Bach, Beethoven and The (Home) Boys: Censoring Violent Rap Music in America.” In Southern California Law Review, University of Southern California, Sept. 1993.
Luke Records v. Navarro, No. 90-5508 , United States Court of Appeals For the Eleventh Circuit, 960 F.2d 134; 1992 U.S. App. Lexis 9592; 20 Media L. Rep. 1114; 6 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 532, May 7, 1992
Rap and the law: NWA, Ice T, and the L.A. Riots
The new gangsta & the global gangsta.
Film: QD3. 2006. Black and Blue: Legends of the Hip-Hop Cop. Image Entertainment.
- SECT 5: Racial Politics of Hip-Hop
Neal, Mark Anthony. 2004. “Post-Industrial Soul: Black Music at the Crossroads.” In That’s the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. Forman, Murray and Neal, Mark Anthony [ed.]. Routledge: New York
Rivera, Raquel. 2003 “Ghettocentricity, Blackness and Pan-Latinidad: The Mid to Late 1990’s.” New York Ricans from the Hip-Hop Zone. Palgrave Macmillan: New York.
Samuels, David. “The Rap on Rap: The ‘Black Music’ that Isn’t Either.” In That’s the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. Forman, Murray and Neal, Mark Anthony [ed.]. Routledge: New York.
Kitwana, Bakari. 2005. “The Cotton Club: Black-conscious hip-hop deals with an overwhelmingly white live audience. The Village voice, New York, June 24th,
Group Discussion: The Color of Hip-Hop
Rap and Whiteness: from Beastie Boys to Eminem
- SECT 6: Turntablism & Production
Ch 17. Chang, Jeff. 2005. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. St. Martin’s Press: New York.
Rose, Tricia. 1999. “Soul Sonic” In Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Connecticut: Wesleyan University.
Group discussion on turntablism & production – linear vs. circular cultural paradigms
Film: Prey, Doug. 2001. Scratch. Palm Pictures.
Global Hip-Hop group presentation planning session
Bartlett, Andrew. 2004 “Airshafts, Loudspeakers, and the Hip-Hop Sample: Context and African American Musical Aesthetics” In That’s the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. Forman, Murray and Neal, Mark Anthony [ed.]. Routledge: New York.
Schumacher, Thomas, G. 2004 “This is a Sampling Sport: Digital Sampling, Rap Music, and the Law in Cultural Production” In That’s the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. Forman, Murray and Neal, Mark Anthony [ed.]. Routledge: New York.
Film continued: Prey, Doug. 2001. Scratch. Palm Pictures.
- SECT 7: Bling Bling: Hip-Hop Consumerism
Ch 18. Chang, Jeff. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. St. Martin’s Press: New York. 2005.
Negus, Keith. “The Business of Rap: Between the street and the Executive Suite.” In That’s the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. Forman, Murray and Neal, Mark Anthony [ed.]. Routledge: New York.
The Entertainment Industry
- SECT 8: Gender & Sexuality
ESSAY #2 DUE
Austin, Joe and Rivière, Melisa. 2001. “Girls and Graffiti.” In Girlhood in American: An Encyclopedia. San Diego: ABC-Clio.
Rivera, Raquel. 2003 “Butta Pecan Mamis.” In New York Ricans from the Hip-Hop Zone. Palgrave Macmillan: New York.
Film: Hurt, Byron. “Beyond Beats and Rimes”
- SECT 9: Global Hip-Hop
WEEK # 13
Austin, Joe. 2001.”Walls and the World: Writing Culture 1982 – 1990.” Taking the Train: Youth, Urban Crisis, Graffiti. New York: Columbia University Press.
Ch. 19. Chang, Jeff. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. St. Martin’s Press: New York. 2005.
Kelly, Raegan. 2004. “Hip-Hop Chicano: A Separate but Parallel Story.” In That’s the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. Forman, Murray and Neal, Mark Anthony [ed.]. Routledge: New York.
Marshall, Wayne. 2009. “From Musica Negra to Reggaeton Latino” In Reggaeton.Rivera, Marshall, and Hernandez-Pacini [ed.]. Durham: Duke University Press.
A brief history of Reggaespañol, Spanish Rap and Reggaetón
Son Dos Alas
Film: Michael Wanguhu. Hip-Hop Colony. 2007. Image Entertainment
Individual readings and preparation as necessary for global hip-hop presentations
Global hip-hop group presentations
Course conclusion, evaluations and summary
FINAL EXAM ESSAY IS DUE
Assignments and grading:
Weekly reaction papers (2 pages) 10%
Praxis/Theory essay paper (5 pages) 15%
Essay #1: Biography (5-6 pages) 15%
Essay #2: Rap and the Law 2 (5-6 pages) 15%
Global hip-hop group presentation 10%
Final paper (8-10 pages) 25%
Weekly reaction papers:
Every class session you have the option to submit a weekly reaction paper for the previous week. These should consist of two page reactions to the readings, discussions, films and speakers. Out of 15 possible weeks to submit reaction papers, 5 are required for full credit (each one is worth 2% of your grade).
Many times the theoretical education of hip-hop theory is not alternated with practice. I want you to not only learn about hip-hop from readings, lectures, discussion and films but also facilitate your ability to execute one of the primary elements of hip-hop. You may attend as many of the five workshops as you like, however you are required to attend at least one to pass the course. You are required to write a 5-page reaction paper about your experience as it relates to class readings and discussion with regard to the divide between the praxis versus the theoretical scholarship of hip-hop. These reaction papers are due one week after the scheduled workshop.
Essay #1: Biography
Biography of a hip-hop pioneer
(5-6 pages, double-spaced, 12-point font, one-inch margins, citations/references)
Essay #2: Rap and the Law
Analysis of ‘gangsta’ rap and the law
(5-6 pages, double-spaced, 12-point font, one-inch margins, citations/references
Global hip-hop group presentation:
Working in small groups (3 – 4 students per group), you are to select one nation outside of the United States in which hip-hop has prevailed. Overlaps should be avoided between groups and nations. Explain why you selected this nation, what elements of hip-hop prevail, and take an in depth look at one aspect of hip-hop for inquiry from the respective country. You will be expected to designate roles for research and presenting. You are NOT expected to write a paper – however you are expected to conduct a formal in-class 20 min presentation about your findings and submit an outline of your talk. I am well aware that with group work, some students take on more than others, I will look for your presentations to demonstrate (1) qualitative in-depth research into the national hip-hop, and (2) that your workload was evenly dispersed amongst group members.
You will receive one final essay question for your final papers. Your responses must be 8-10 pages, double-spaced in 12-point font
**Assignment dates are non-negotiable with the exception of extraordinary circumstances such as a personal or family medical emergency (in which case official documentation to the effect must be provided). Should you have any concerns regarding academic or grade disputes, scholastic misconduct, or sexual harassment I encourage you to contact the Student Dispute Resolution Center
University-wide grading standards, which will be adhered to, are as follows:
A – achievement that is outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements
B – achievement that is significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements
C – achievement that meets the course requirements in every respect
D – achievement that is worthy of credit even though it fails to meet fully the course requirements
(Note: The A through D grading scale will be adjusted by a ‘+’ or ‘–’ notation, as appropriate)
S – achievement that is satisfactory, which is equivalent to a C- or better
F (or N) – Represents failure (or no credit) and signifies that the work was either (1) completed but at a level of achievement that is not worthy of credit or (2) was not completed and there was no agreement between the instructor and the student that the student would be awarded an I
I – (Incomplete) Assigned at my discretion when, due to extraordinary circumstances, a student is prevented from completing the work of the course on time. Requires a written agreement between instructor and student
No curve will be applied.
Plagiarism, in any form, will not be tolerated. Plagiarism entails use of previously published or unpublished works not of your own authorship utilized without citation or reference to original work. Students found engaging in plagiarism will receive a grade of “F” in the course and will be reported to the University. If you are unclear about the university’s definition of and policy on plagiarism, please discuss this with me
Anthropology of Hip-Hop in a Global Perspective © M.Rivière
2006 / 2008 / 2009 / 2011
Anthropology of Hip-Hop in a Global Perspective suggested supplemental readings:
Ahearn, Charlie and Fricke, Jim. 2002. Yes Yes Y’all: Oral History of Hip-Hop’s First Decade. New York: The Experience Music Project.
Castleman, Craig. 1982. Getting Up: Subway Graffiti in New York. Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Chalfant, Henry and Prigoff, James..1987. Spraycan Art. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc.
Cepeda, Raquel. 2004. And It Don’t Stop!: The Best American hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years. Faber and Faber:New York.
Cooper, Martha and Chalfant, Henry. 1984. Subway Art. New York: Henry Holtand Company Inc.
Flores, Juan. 2000. From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity. New York: Columbia University Press..
Goerge, Nelson. 1999. Hip-Hop America. Penguin Group (USA)……
Haeger, Steven.1984. The Illustrated History of Break Dancing, Rap Music and Graffiti. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Marshall, Wayne, Rivera, Raquel, and Hernandez-Pacini. 2009. Reggaeton. Durham. Duke University Press.
Miller, Ivor Lynn. 1993. Aerosol Kingdom: The Indigenous Culture of the New York Subway. Connecticut: Yale University Thesis. UMI #1349354
Perkins, William Eric (ed.). 1996. Droppin’ Science: Critical Essays on Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Powers, Stephen. 1999. The Art of Getting Over: Graffiti at the Millenium. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Rivière, Melisa. 2005. “The Dynamics of A Canvass: Graffiti and Aerosol Art.” In Public Art Review, Forecast, St. Paul. MN Fall/winter 05 v. 16, issue 34, n 3
Smidlapp and Phase 2.1996. Style: Writing From the Underground, (R)evolutions of Aerosol Linguistics. Italy: Stampa Alternativa in Association with IGTimes.
Stewart, Jack.1989. Subway Graffiti: An Aesthetic Study of Graffiti on the Subway System of New York City 1970-1978. New York: New York University. Dissertation. UMI #9004328.
Wimsatt, William Upski.. 1994. Bomb the Suburbs. Chicago: The Subway and Elevated Press Co.