College Professor Talks Kendrick Lamar Class, Hip Hop and its Relevancy to Mike Brown

College Professor Talks Kendrick Lamar Class, Hip-Hop and Michael Brown

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Now, the storyline of the album, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City,” ties into a lot of current issues that are occurring today such as the Michael Brown situation. Will current topics like this also be discussed throughout the course?

It’s amazing that happened right before this semester started because I was going to link it to the Trayvon Martin situation and talk about how young black men are an endangered species. They don’t have the same outlook on life as their white, or Hispanic, or Asian counterparts and why is that? It’s because it’s not just fear of the police or fear of other races. It’s fear of the neighborhood, and fear of the forces bringing people down. I think Kendrick’s album does a great job of showing the danger of that, but also the enticement of that because when you’re 17-years-old you’re kind of on that threshold of “Do I just join with the status quo or do I try to be a difference maker?” I think Kendrick’s conclusion at the end of the album is “I’m going to be Kendrick Lamar and be myself and talk about what it’s like to live in Compton, but give kids hope.” He says in one of his songs, “Give them hope for being a lawyer or doctor, instead of a boy with a chopper holding the cul-de-sac hostage.”

Is this the first semester that Georgia Regents has had a hip-hop course?

Yes, and it’s basically just a freshman composition course. Every teacher has to do the same assignment where we give kids a research paper, but in terms of subject matter, every teacher gets to pick his or her own topic. So because they let us choose our topic I said, “What about this? Will this work?” And my department chair said “Yea, go for it. If it doesn’t work just try something else the next time.” It’s going pretty well so far and it just connects so much to what’s going on right now from a current events standpoint. There’s just so much interdisciplinary material to bring into the conversation and discussion and ultimately we can analyze it in a more sophisticated way than just to say, “How does this look versus other rap? Or how does this look versus other literature?” You know that’s kind of a typical English course where you just discuss it in the realm of literature, versus now we can talk about how this is a journalistic document of life in Compton, California and has it foreshadowed or kind of predicted what will happen in our time now because it was a record that was set 10 years ago, but very much could have happened yesterday.

Are there any other artists whose work you would like to see studied in the classroom?

There are a lot of people that I would consider doing. I’m a pretty big Kanye West fan and I feel bad that I chose Kendrick before Kanye because I’ve been promoting Kanye for years. But I feel like Kanye would be more typical. You know there have been courses on Nas, Jay Z and Tupac and Kanye kind of fits that mold a little bit better in terms of looking at his work as a whole. I was considering talking about Kanye’s work and Chicago because I thought it would be cool to have a whole class about the city of Chicago and [study] novels, movies and music all about that city.