Category Archives: (1) Legendary Roots

Pioneer Biographical Essays due this week

A hip-hop pioneer is a person who was influential in the early development of hip-hop either as a DJ, MC, break-dancer, or graffiti artist. Select one person who is considered a hip-hop pioneer to further research their life history. Write a brief synopsis of how this person was influential in the development of hip-hop. Include relevant information such as family background, race, ethnicity, language, citizenship, class, and gender. Discuss what specific events or moments in this individual’s biography led to influential markers in hip-hop history. Consider in this summary, how individuals, as agents, directly influenced hip-hop as a social phenomenon.

Your argument in this paper is to demonstrate how the individual you selected was influential in the development of hip-hop and that they are a pioneer.

You may select a hip-hop pioneer from course readings, films, and lectures. If there is someone whom you would like to write about who is not in course readings, films, or lectures, please see me for approval. You may also select a hip-hop pioneer who stood in a role outside of the four elements such as a producer, journalist, scholar, activist or documentarian, however check with me prior to making your selection as I do not want you to deviate far from the already large pool of hip-hop pioneers within the four-element paradigm. For an individual to qualify as a hip-hop pioneer (for the purpose of this assignment) they must have initiated their career in hip-hop before 1985.

Papers should be 5-6 double-spaced pages, standard one-inch margins with full references/citations. You may use either APA or MLA citation styles (either footnotes, endnotes or within text citations) as long as you are consistent in your writing style.

BEST PIONEER BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAYS FROM ANTHROPOLOGY OF HIP HOP 2006-2009 (all students have authorized the publication of their essays, any reference to these works should be cited by author’s name, paper title, and Anthropology of Hip-Hop in a Global Perspective)

Biography of Richard Goldstein by Aron Marquette
Biography of Russell Simmons by Benjamin Winter
Biography of Lee Quiñonez by Chris Hirsch
Biography of Crazy Legs by Cassie Traun
Biography of Arabian Prince by Emma O’Brien
Biography of DJ Kool Herc by Madison Arkadie
Terp Hip-Hop Pioneer Biography – DJ Kool Herc
Backstrom Hip-Hop Pioneer Biography – DJ Kool Herc
Biography of GrandWizard Theodore by Matt Sindelar
Biography of CAP by Nick Hartman
Biography of Afrika Bambaataa by Rachel Peterson
Bettino Hip-Hop Pioneer Biography – Afrika Bambaataa
Artley Hip-Hop Pioneer Biography – H.Chalfant
Biography of Henry Chalfant by Serri Graslie
Biography of KRS-One by Tina Eide
Robinson Hip-Hop Pioneer Biography – Chuck D
Reinfeld Hip-Hop Pioneer Biography – Grandmaster Flash
Biography of Baby Love by Theresa Angelopoulos


SECT 1: Legendary Roots

SECT 1 – Legendary Roots:

WEEK #1 Introductions, class format, and expectations

Lecture: The urban context – the South Bronx

  1. The political context – a Post-civil rights era
  2. Black Panthers, Young Lords and street gangs such as the Savage Skulls, Nomads, and the Ghetto Brothers
  3. An overview of US government programs (COINTELPRO) and their methods utilized to dismantle political organizations and street gangs
  4. Film scenes from: Chalfant, Henry & Fecher, Rita. 1993. “Flying Cut Sleeves.” New York: Sleeping Dog Films and “Ain’t Gonna Eat My Mind”


Readings: 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.


  1. The urban context continued: voices (or innovation?) from the margins
  2. Discussion: Hip-Hop’s big bang – “Rapper’s Delight” (SugarHill Gang) vs. “The Message” (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)
  3. Film: Chalfant, Henry and Silver, Tony.1984. Style Wars. New York: Plexifilms.

Course sections & blog categories

All course sections and blog categories will be posted as the Spring 2011 course develops…