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April 27, 2008

Brian Andreen Rap and Hip-Hop

During the lecture we discussed Hip-Hop and rap. The initial discussion revolved around what hip hop and rap are. On this topic one of the presenters made a very nice quote that “rap is the literature of Hip-Hop?. This portrays very nicely how the presenters were saying that Hip-Hop was a lifestyle and rap is a part of that.

Another interesting topic that was brought up was that their does not really seem to be any literature of America. I think the presenters were correct in that we could not pick a genera or set of authors who write “American literature?. On this topic I think the presenters were 100% correct in that popular music is the literature of America. It represents the culture and beliefs and attitudes of most Americans as it reflects their beliefs.

I disagree with the statement that modern rap is a dilution of real rap as the presenters put it. Rap is a type of music and thus through it opinions and causes can be represented but that does not make rap a part of those causes. When the music rap was introduced to mainstream culture the music form was adapted to represent the more mainstream beliefs and customs of the majority of America. This does not mean that it was diluted, it means that it changed to represent a different belief system. Also even though rap often ignores social and political issues I do not believe that it is due to a dilution of what rap is, but instead is a reflection of mainstream culture not caring nearly as much as the initial producers of rap about those subjects.

I also disagree with classifying graffiti as art. It is possible that some people consider it so, especially those making it, but I do not believe it makes it art. It is vandalism and should not be looked on in a positive light.

I also think that people who create hip hop define what hip hop is and that is what causes the gap between academics and rappers. Academics try to define something that I believe changes continuously with time. This means that once they have a definition of what Hip Hop is they are placing a constraint upon something that will not be able to be defined by that definition days or years from its conception.

I also believe that a large part of the fall of the popularity of rap as a social tool was caused by the producers of it not adapt to social changes. They sung about important issues but as these issues became unimportant to most America they did not changing what they were singing about, or at least saying it in a different way. This made their music loose its effectiveness.

Hip-Hop Discussion - Ned Rupp

I thought this weeks panel discussion on Rap/Hip-Hop was extremely interesting, and I thought Professor Tate and Professor Riviere did an excellent job in thoroughly answering all of the questions which Anthony asked them, many times going above and beyond what was asked. Both of the Professor's showed that they knew a lot about hip-hop culture, and you could tell that they were passionate about it in the way that they answered the questions. I have been listening to "underground" hip-hop almost exclusively for the past six years, and a lot of what intrigues me about the genre is the lyricism, or as Professor Tate likes to call it the "rap poetry", part of the music. I enjoy listening to hip-hop that makes me think. Slug (from the Minneapolis based Atmosphere) is a "rap poet" who intrigues me because his style of lyricism revolves heavily around complex metaphors, and the human psyche. Most of his rhymes cannot simply be taken at face value; they have to be dissected, a lot of the time extensively, if you really want to understand what he is trying to say. I actually LEARN stuff when I listen to Slug; I rarely learn anything listening to KDWB or B96. Because I focus most of my attention on the lyrics in hip-hop songs, I agreed with most of what Professor Tate had to say. I really liked his analogy of radio-rap being the Stephen King novel of the genre. If I want to be entertained without having to do too much thinking, I can pick up a Stephen King, or a Tom Clancy novel. If I want to be entertained, but have to actually think about what I'm reading, I'll read F. Scott Fitzgerald or Toni Morrison. I do listen to mainstream rap, I admit it. The thing is, when I listen to it I am almost always at a party or something similar. That is another point that I think Professor Riviere brought up. She said that conscious hip-hop will never be mainstream because you can't dance to it or bump it in the club. Also because the majority of people are too stupid to understand what conscious rappers are trying to say, but that's a whole other story. Anyway, thanks to this discussion I am going to try to take a class from either Professor Tate or Professor Riviere this summer because they clearly know what they are talking about, and I want to learn more from people who think about the culture similarly to me.

Hip-Hop Summit-Nicole Carroll

With hip-hop on the rise it's a troubling subject to really define. I would like to pan off of the quote I had placed in my question by the author Reyhan Harmanci that states, “An urban, youth-oriented culture based on rhyme and color that originated in the black and latino communities in New York during the 70’s.? This quote starts of our definition very broadly. Yes, I believe that hip-hop did start of in the 1970's, but this was also the era of hippies and John Lennon. Could rock possibly put an influence in on hip-hop, instead of stereotyping the black and Hispanic cultures?

We talked about how rock in the mid-1900's could have caused women to become un-pure, which most likely was stemmed from boredom. We talk about how hip-hop is so dangerous to our younger generations that know more than we did at the age of 12, but we never blame this on the music. I believe that by looking at all the beneficial factors that my working definition of hip-hop is..."A teen/youth-oriented culture based on rhyme, rhythm, and movements that could has originated from all types of music, rock, big band, early rap, ect. It is an artist way of expressing oneself and creating a new sound for new listeners (i.e. the new youth generation)."

Clare Cloyd

One of the questions that I submitted was about whether or not hip-hop artists viewed hip-hop as a job or a lifestyle. The discussion of hip-hop in an art form versus hip-hop as a job came up. Alexs was discussing how he feels that hip-hop is his job and he aims to make sure that there are always people that are professional at analyzing the hip-hop scene. He said he thinks it is extremely important to have a strong separation from hip-hop academia and actual hip-hop art. I could tell that he had a high level of respect and knowledge of the hip hop world. He also made it clear that he knows that his expertise is the analytical factor and not the actual performing, and he made it clear that it was not important to him if he was liked by the performers. He mentioned that he has met numerous "stars" if you will and it is not his goal to be liked by them. I thought Melissa's theory about territory was also very interesting because it is completely true that it is a groups duty to defend their turf. So, the answer to the question would probably be that there are many aspects to the hip-hop world and depending on which part you belong to , academics or performing, is the deciding factor as to whether it is viewed as a job or a lifestyle.,

Hip-Hop Forum *Dominic Nemmers*

It was interesting to have a lot of the facts and fogginess surrounding rap and hip-hop, and the culture that goes with them explain to me at this week’s discussion with Melissa Rivere and Professor Alex Pate. My questions had to deal with the violence associated with rap music and the venues associated with it. While these questions weren’t overtly answered, there was a lot of good information presented that allow me to better understand and try to answer them.
The violence associated with the music probably has to deal with the popular masculine message being presented; this message being popular to the ‘tough guy’ image which is portrayed by the people who listen to and purchase the music. The evolution of the message of financially successful rap, deemed ‘popular’, leads to the pushing of issues that are seen as profitable without really seeing what the message is that is being presented. This message is absorbed by the listening public and although not immediately shown, is seen as typifying the crowd associated with that music, which makes the people who are listening to that music, themselves being viewed as violent.
My other issue, dealing with the academics and hip-hop, was answered by Pate and Rivere. They felt that much of the academic learning and information being presented took too specifically one issue of rap or hip-hop and tried to explain the entire culture without looking at how the entire culture affects everything inside of it. Pate also felt that rap should continue to push out the message even though if it was unpopular with academics or popular culture, and that the study of rap shouldn’t deal with how the culture affects popular culture, more that it should be viewed upon as modern literature, the poems of today, and the job of academics were to sort through the messages being presented and disseminate and objectively rate them.

Hip Hop panel - Meghan Frank

The thing that struck me the most about the discussion was that "hip hop is the carrot" when it comes to academics. A class about hip hop or rap is not necessarily a class solely dedicated to that subject. Hip hop provides the framework to discuss important cultural topics such as censorship and civil rights. Also, the fact that the panel thought it was important to keep academics separate from the hip hop community was interesting. They thought it is good that the teachers and professors stay "objective observers" because it makes it easier for them to comment on the community. When you look in from the outside and your not in the thick of things you can make unbiased commentary and observations. I agree with the fact that the professors need to stay somewhat separated from the culture but they cannot be completely out of touch. They should be respected within the community or they will not hold any credibility.

Panel Discussion - Martine Schroeder

The panel discussion on hip-hop and rap was quite informative and spoke to many of the issues that face rap today. As time has gone on, hip-hop and rap have not necessarily lost all of their ability to artistically express political and societal issues, but it has become more of a rarity. As one of the panelists said, rap in America has started to be made more for entertainment value. Yet, in many other countries hip-hop has truly turned into a form of political expression. Because rap in America is made primarily with the intention of providing entertainment, some of the artistic expression of this music form has been hidden.

Hip-hop and rap both mean different things to different people. As in any form of expression (art, music, film, theater, etc.) there are different stories and morals expressed and all people decipher these messages differently. The mainstream tends to take rap and hip-hop at more of a surface level. If the music and the beat are good it will get listened to. Whereas the minority tend to look at the deeper message conveyed through this type of music and can relate to a lot of what is being said in these songs.

Nyssa Shawstad's Take on Hip-Hop

Hip-hop is a culture that includes graffiti, break dancing, dj-ing and lyricism. It is a label that also encompasses the myriad aspects of the culture ranging from fashion and social to history and politics. Overall it is meant to be a form of oppositional expression questioning the mainstream. As Melisa said it is an attempt to “reunite marginalized community in a positive way against oppression?. Often attributed to a cluster of artists in the Bronx in the early 70s, hip-hop has expanded to become a mainstream culture itself.
As hip-hop has moved past a localized manifestation confined to a select group it has lost some of its unifying characteristic. Particular regions have their own styles and language that are directed at a specific audience. Furthermore there is an increasing categorization of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ hip-hop that escapes consensus. While most agree that commercial hip-hop and rap is more popular for its head bopping beats and big label backing, therefore ‘bad’; there is less agreement on what qualifies as ‘good’.
Simply being commercially successful is in a way ‘good’ as the message is sent to so many more receivers. However frequently the lyrics are devoid of any oppositional stance and are simply glamorizing questionable elements of the hip-hop life style. The focus on bling bling and misogyny towards women are two examples of this. It reinforces negative viewpoints instead of unifying and oppressed people. At the same time it reconfirms stereotypical expectations of the mainstream.
The current hip-hop debate is especially pronounced in academia as universities try to include this influential way of life in scholarly pursuits. The ever changing culture and general distrust of establishments can further confuse the situation. To be respected in academic circles one needs background in a variety of fields that can simultaneously remove a certain amount of credibility within the street community. It is important for ‘experts’ to have grounding in both worlds yet maintain their objectivity to effectively contribute to a meaningful discussion of hip-hop.

Colin McGuire - Panel Discussion

In the discussion panel this week, Alex and Melissa discussed the importance that there is much more to hip-hop and rap than meets the eye. It is much more than just music and the popularity contests of these “iconic? rap artists controlling the industry. For many it is a way of life and a culture. Unlike these “artists? that are producing this mainstream “bad rap? music, Alex and Melissa explained that those that live and breathe true hip-hop and rap are musical poets. These musical poets produce the “good rap? music, but it does not get played on the popular radio stations. It is forced to remain underground because major corporations buy all the air time to ensure their bad rap is played. I found it interesting that hip-hop is considered the culture and rap is the literature. The lyrics of the “good rap? contain information pertaining to the artists, like where they are from and the events that have shaped their life. Hip-hop and rap bring the community together and addresses issues of the society.
This was all really interesting to me. I had previously presumed rap and hip-hop were perhaps rivals. But learning that they are connected and in fact a part of each other was very interesting. I prefer hip-hop over rap, but then again we are only exposed the “bad? stuff on the radio. The panel discussion was interesting and informative this week. It was nice to learn from people involved.

Rap & Hip-Hop Panel Discussion- Jesse Stapp

In his article, Foucault’s Turntable: Hip-Hop Scholars Bumrush the Academy, Hua Hsu argues that recent scholars have changed the way in which they approach the study of Hip-Hop. For example, Hsu uses Todd Boyd, a scholar, as an exemplar for this new approach. According to Hsu, Boyd states that, “In [his] mind, a lot of universities have been behind—they wait for something to happen and then they jump on it. To [him], that’s a very old-school model. The academy should anticipate and predict situations so as to inform not only members of the academy, but society at large.? I can go about commenting on this statement in one of two ways. First is the pre-hip-hop rap panel discussion response. Before last week’s forum, I simply would have said that I agree with this comment wholeheartedly. It made complete sense to me that instead of sitting back and letting the curriculum dictate the classroom setting, it is more alive and efficient to predict the next trends of the hip-hop movement in order to learn them as they are happening. With this methodology, Boyd is staying with the movement instead of lagging behind it.

However, after the hip-hop panel discussion, I may not entirely agree with Boyd’s teaching style. Both speakers involved in the discussion stressed the importance of history in hip-hop. The past truly defined hip-hop and made it into what it is today. The new trends that are emerging in hip-hop are not predictable, but fluid, and have deep historical roots. While Boyd may have an advantage in following the many hip-hop movements because of his ability to foresee such trends, staying side-by-side with hip-hop is irrelevant if you don’t know the origins of such a culture. As Melissa Rivieré said in the discussion—“You have to know where you came from before you can get where you want to go.?

Discussion Panel- Brenna Munoz

In this week's reading, Thill argues, “Hip-hop art is way bigger than rap music, and in fact it is probably one of the biggest arts movements in the last few decades.? This statement implies a distinction between rap music and Hip-hop, and raises questions regarding what it is that sets them apart. Before this week’s panel discussion, I would have jumped to the conclusion that these two are one in the same. However, by observing the explanations offered by the expert panelists my original assumption proves to be very wrong. Hip hop is more than just a genre of music; Hip-hop is a culture. This culture, like that of many others, is one that strongly revolves around the idea of expression. This expression is multidimensional and can be observed through fashion, style, language, music, lyrics, graffiti, literature, and various arts. The experts explained this by describing the original dynamics of hip-hop as a combination of various expressions, and rap or lyricism being just one of these pieces that make up a total package of hip-hop.

Instead of limiting our understanding of this rapidly rising culture to stereotypical views such as the violent lyrics found in some “rap? songs, it is important to start thinking critically about this evolving culture, digging deeper than just the surface and finding the roots of this culture and examining it from several dimensions; something that is more commonly being done by academic institutions all over the country. By just one discussion, we are aready forced to think critically and have learned such basic things that might have been previously falsified, such as the distinction between hip-hop and rap music, and are significantly more well aware of the various dimensions that make up this cultural movement and the way it affects various aspects of popular culture, society, and even politics.

Cameron White

First off I just want to say that I really enjoyed the panel discussion and what professor Pate and Melissa Rivere’s ideas on Hip-Hop. Before last weeks class I perceived Rap and Hip-Hop as the same thing, but I soon realized that they are not the same. Professor Pate explained that Hip-Hop is meant to bring people together while Rap on the other hand lyrically talks about murder, policy brutality, and racial tension.
Hip-Hop is growing in popularity it today’s society because it is about bring people closer together rather then promoting violence like rap. Hip-Hop is may not seem to be as popular because each generation change the vibe of the music. In the article Hip-Hop Chaos in Context talks about how Hip-Hop has been considered to be dead, but really it is because “there is a tension between the youth culture and the formerly youth culture? (Thill).
Hip-Hop is more then just a genre music, it brings people together for the great good of society

Lauren Kolsum

The rap and hip hop discussion was great. It was obvious that Alexs Pate, his TA, and Melisa Rivere were deeply passionate about the topic at hand. They provided an insight and redefined what I had never given much of a thought to before, rap and hip hop. Although my questions were not specifically answered, what was discussed during the panel opposed one of the things Jeff Change said from the interview with Thill Scott. Scott says that hip hop never really said "I am hip hop, and this is why?? I believe it was Pate who said "Hip hop is a culture guided by its opposition to mainstream." One of the main points of the discussion was to define hip hop and how and why it became what it was. Hip hop does address and define itself with its confrontational style.
There is so much to the hip hop culture that I was unaware of before the panel discussion, most likely because groups like public enemy aren't around to say something of substance today. I agreed whole heartedly with the point the speakers made about mainstream rap and hip hop and how their political messages have disappeared. The rap on the radio is not about defining ourselves or our generation, or really anything. Today music is extremely limited in order to comply with the clear channel bullshit, no on is acting out. I liked how Aleks Rate uses rap poetry and rap poets to define rap lyrics and rap artists. I like it because its how he looks at their work, as meaningful art. That's why he said the rap and hip hop on the radio are not good, you definitely can not call that poetry.

Conscious vs. Unconscious Hip Hop - Andrew Probelski

After listening to some songs written around the time of the LA race riots and listening to some of the rap songs that are popular today, I noticed a stark difference between the songs of then and the songs of now in overall content. This made me wonder why the rap music of the late 80s-early 90s had a very meaningful, and often political message, while the rap music that is widely heard and widely available today has very little meaning. The majority of the songs I have heard recently center around the topics of sex, the nightlife, superiority, and overall stupidity and egocentricity. Although rap music isn't my first genre choice, I respect all GOOD rap; rap with a purpose and a message as an art form. My question came after reading Theresa A. Martinez's "Pop Culture and Oppostitional Culture: Rap as Resistance." Martinez argues that gangsta rap music from the late 80s to the early 90s was a powerful outcry against the racist and injust establishment, and “perhaps, one of the most intriguing examples of…resistance? (Martinez 272). Does rap music today still seem to hold these important values and ideals that it did twenty years ago or has the message of the music completely changed direction? The answer to my question came briefly into the panel discussion, inspired by similar questions from the audience and answered by both Alexs and Melisa. The answer came in parts. First, Alexs referred to the crap you hear on the radio nowadays as "cookie cutter" rap, most likely produced and sold to you by someone who is capitalizing on the "sub-culture" movement and selling your image right back to you. Alexs said that this meaningless noise that fills the airwaves, clubs, and parties nowadays is particularly an American occurrence. He said that "on a global level, hip hop is still very political, and those outside of the US don't even consider the 'rap' coming out of the US rap at all." Good rap exists, it is just hard to find these days. "Conscious hip-hop," as it is called, is a unique art form and is great because it is real and deals with real issues that are a concern to modern people in those circumstances. We can all learn about problems people are dealing with by educating ourselves with this "conscious hip hop." I dig it.

HIp-Hop Christopher Lewis

I can say that the panel discussion did open my eyes to the world of rap and hip-hop. I've never liked rap or hip-hop except for the occasional song, and this may be because I only hear mainstream music in these categories. The mainstream is used to get money and to create a certain environment that everyone is used to. The negative emotions shown in rap and hip-hop can be construed as violence towards those who are not privy to the inner working of the non-mainstream version of this music. I feel that I need to experience this music in its natural environment with it's ultimate message against the mainstream to be able to enjoy rap and hip-hop. Both of these are a culture that can't be disregarded just because many people on hear it on the radio or see it on tv. Cultures must be experienced before they can be praised or written off.

Thomas Campbell - rap and hip-hop discussion

I really enjoyed the panel discussion this week. It was a very interesting look into today’s culture of hip-hop and rap, along with the challenges, and changes that have occurred. Both Professor Pate and Melissa Riviere’s ideas were very interesting. I was not aware of the major differences between rap and hip-hop, and before this panel just thought they were both regarded as the same genre. Professor Pate claimed that hip-hop is a culture, and rap is the literature of that culture. I further learned that hip-hop is meant to bring people together, while gangster rap looks at police brutality and racial tensions. This was very surprising, as I personally did not separate the two music genres.

It was very interesting to hear about the development of rap and hip-hop genres over the years. Both music genres are much more political than I thought. Melissa Riviere mentioned that on a global level, hip-hop is very political. Rose explained, “ rap’s (or Hip Hop’s) political development sustains that rap music was not always political? (pp. 276). Today, it isn’t used as much as a means for social change, which was the case when it began as an apolitical “party music?. Public Enemy was an example of the emergence of rap as a political cultural form. According to Rose “Public Enemy’s success opened the door too more politically and racially explicit material? (pp. 276). It was clear during the discussion panel that the use of rap and hip-hop is important, and has been used to be politically active. It was great to hear that, in parts of the world rap and hip-hop are still used to fight political power worldwide.

Tom Lulic - Rap and Hip-Hop Discussion

In this week’s discussion, unfortunately I was not able to have either of my questions answered. However, my question can be related and answered using one of the discussions we had.

Sister Souljah, referring to rap music, states, “When you look at the dances you don’t see it and when you listen to the music and you don’t hear a call, then you missed the jam.? And Rose refers to the music as “volume, looped drum beats and bass frequencies.?

• What type of musical and social power does rap music have?

I refer to Alexs visualization of what rap really is. Rap is a sort of thing that you have on your street corner or in your neighborhood and how true or real the music’s meaning really is, is measured by the extent to which people from outside of the original group can understand and relate to the literature being expressed. An example of a socially weak music is the commercialized rap being broadcasted and force fed from the local, self-proclaimed hip-hop stations. This type of music has a widespread “understanding? and is seemingly applicable to just general scenarios like “In Da Club?. A socially powerful music is that of Mos Def who generally represents his hometown of Brooklyn and upholds that street corner shine. The social power seems to be greater the more unique and confined the music is.

Cole Storer Hip Hop Panel

"Blood Brothers" by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a provocative interview done on Albert and Allen Hughes with regards to "Menace II Society." It follows what happened to the two of them after the release of their box office hit and their fight to get to the top of their drama by showing the difference between "good" violence and "bad" violence. When we were in the discussion someone asked if where you were from or what your educational background was was a big deal within the hip- hop community? When Gates questions them about where they grew up the Hughes brothers get a little up in arms about it. They ask him another question. "You don't ask Spielberg that shit. You don't ask Tim Burton where he grew up." (Gates, 166). In the discussion the speakers believed that it does have to do with where you are from popularity wise. People might not respect you if you are rapping like you are from the ghetto when really you went to school for performing arts or grew up in a predominately white community like Tupac. Pate said that there is a place for intellectuals in hip hop and that it is necessary for someone to have a birds-eye view of the genre. He argues that there needs to be someone watching out, making sure these artists realize what they're putting out there or else they might lose focus of what they are trying to accomplish.

Another thing we focused on in the lecture was the importance of a 'hood or the place where an artist calls home. You hear all the rap artists talk about their different regions like East Coast, West Coast or "The Dirty," but they may not necessarily live there. They move out when they get rich. I thought it was awesome to here these brothers talk about how they still live in Pomona because that's who they are and that's where they shot their movies. They learned to direct from that culture.

Hip Hop Forum: Katherine Lung

The Hip Hop forum with Alex Pate and Melisa Riviera was an eye opening discussion because I have never studied the history or investigated the subject matter deeply and have a light knowledge of this area. I wasn’t even aware there was a course on Anthropology of Hip-Hop. Or Rap for that matter. Through the media I was used to hearing how Hip-Hop is a degenerated music on the youth culture, but listening to the professors speak about how hip-hop was born from the Bronx of African Americans and Hispanic Americans as a reaction towards oppression of society and frustration changed my opinion about it. I didn’t grow up in America so I’m not aware of the earlier hip hop artists that are truer to the intentions of the art form. Hip Hop these days seem to have lyrics on the most superficial matters or degrading comments on female, which makes the art form even more unfortunate that conscious hip hop has been much less popular than the “popular? ones. Hearing about the politics of getting conscious hip hop music on the “playlist? radio stations was unbelievable for me, and further shows how capitalistic America is and genuine intentions for the best is pushed aside. I was skeptical when I read several articles on how the government distributed alcohol and drugs to control the rebellious groups but hearing it directly from the professors and how major record labels do not support real hiphop artists because of the nature of their content I find that upsetting. The forum definitely changed my perspective on hip hop and sparked my interest in listening to the old school hip-hop artists, and more respect for the art form and music.

Panel Discussion/Kyle Cross

My series of questions were based on Tricia Rose’s statement, “That a present day African American popular culture expression is yet another form of oppositional culture in the face of perceived institutional discrimination, racial formation and urban decay.? One discussion panel question I derived from this statement was how rap and hip hop artists are perceived by their own culture when they are no longer opposing the dominate mainstream, but instead, are participating in it? I believe that Melisa said it best when she referred to commercial hip hop and rap as “cookie cutter? hip hop and rap and what Professor Pate referred to as “garbage?. I don’t think either of them disagrees with the fact that hip hop still brings people together, but the opposition to the institution is no longer present once that artist is commercialized by the institution itself. My reason for believing this is due to a filter that I think all music goes through before it hits the mainstream and that primary filter would be the commercial potential of the song, not necessarily the political message. That is where the opposition is lost because the raps are no longer raw messages being sent out on the street corner or at a local venue, but instead mass produced and judged not on the content, but the marketability. So, to answer my own question, when rap and hip hop artists that represent the oppositional culture end up conforming to the mainstream then they longer pose a threat to the mainstream and lose their credibility.

Jackie Robak

This discussion really opened my eyes to the hip hop culture. I never really have been into hip hop but it was really cool to get the inside scoop on it. I kind of had always thought that hip hop and rap was almost the same thing. I didn’t realize that “rap was the lyrics to the hip hop culture.?
I also thought it was interesting that they both Alexs and Melissa thought that the music that we hear on the radio is not what true hip hop is. They said that it is all what the corporations want us to hear, that part of what we hear is due to how much money the company has to spend on “air time.? It made me laugh a little to think of my friends that are really into hip hop because technically they don’t know anything about the subject, because they listen to 96.3 and other radio stations like that.
I agreed with the fact that the hip hop revolution resembles the hippie movement. In both situations you have a group of people who are rebelling and starting a revolution. And they both used music as a tool. Alexs made a comment on how their culture wasn’t going to do it the way the republicans did, which is why they wore their pants on their ass and had their hats tilted to the side.
One more thing I thought was interesting was that they said there are no really good hip hop artist any more. How Public Enemy isn’t around anymore. A group that says it like it is. That rebels against the things that are oppressing them not about bitches, money, and cars like you hear today.

Marc Dunham - Rap Discussion Response

I am not, and never have been, a fan of rap music, so I was a little skeptical coming into Wednesday’s discussion lecture. However, I was pleasantly surprised and captivated by both of the speakers, Alex Pate and Melisa Riviere, and I thought they provided many interesting views on the subject of hip-hop and urban culture. As someone who is almost always disappointed (and borderline disgusted) by the content of rap music, I was comforted when I heard the speakers say that most publicized rap music is not representative of true hip-hop and urban culture. I was impressed by Alex’s seemingly deep analysis of what he calls “rap poetry,? and would really love to take his class and learn more about rap poetry with more literary merit than the contrived disgrace on the radio.

I also found it interesting that the speakers (Melisa in particular) viewed the popularization of rap music and hip-hop culture as a form of suppression of the black community. The idea makes sense, as rap music at its inception was meant to be a protest of the mainstream ideals and culture. As the music becomes popularized and accepted into the “mainstream,? the music tends to lose its significance as a counterculture force. I can see how frustrating of a situation this must be for those who are working hard to fight against popular culture, making it a very powerful strategy for those orchestrating it. I think this strategy is used very frequently to crush minority opposition when it is rooted in a defiant form of expression.

Kyle Anderson-Hip-hop Panel

I thought that the hip-hop discussion panel was really intriguing, as it brought real world perspectives on hip-hop from two people who are true experts on the subject. That being said, I thought Alexs’ response to why academia and hip-hop should be separated was especially enlightening. In the article “Foucault’s Turntable? by Hua Hsu, Boyd is quoted as saying “In my mind, a lot of universities have been behind—they wait for something to happen
and then they jump on it…Within this group of people who write about hip-hop, I find that a lot of them have a bit of a moralizing tone to what they say. It should be about the culture—this is what it is, with all its problems, all its warts. Take it for what it is. Deal with it, break it down, chop it up, and leave it for somebody else to do with it what they want, know what I'm sayin'?? The question poised to Alexs involved what validation he saw for the apparent separation between the scholarly world of hip-hop and the streets that hip-hop ultimately originates. His response was that the scholarly world “should be separate? and that academia allows us “to think about it, not what’s the hottest.? Furthermore, he said that “if someone isn’t shepparding it, it will be marketed and fade to fad.? There is a lot of truth to what he said, as academia provides a way to be skeptical and objective about the hip-hop industry, and critique which way hip-hop is heading. I disagree that scholarly thinking alone will prevent rap and hip-hop from being bastardized and marketed, because the evidence is all around us that this is happening already. Take, for instance, what the panelists said about Nelly’s Air Force Ones song, which was ultimately created by Nike to launch its shoe line. Marketing is a necessary evil in our capitalist economy, but it detracts from the art and pure essence of what hip-hop is. By working in cahoots with “the man? to make a buck, the art form loses its anti-establishment edge.

Yu Katayama

Before I read the article on the interview with Jeff Chang, I thought the hip-hop culture was just about rap music. In the interview, Chang said that hiphop culture was designed to "bring people together and to raise the roof." During those days, the racial conflict between the black and the white culture was very bad, which forced the African American culture to produce what we called "hip-hop" these days. The black community attacked the social and political aspects of America by singing or rapping the lyrics. However, I thought that hip-hop culture these days talks more about sex, money and power instead of focusing more on the political and social issues. Chang believed that hip-hop culture is evolving from talking more about deracination, which is eliminating the racial issues. The question that i asked myself was that how the theme of "bringing people together and raising the roof" relates to the hip-hop culture that we have today, which, i think, focuses more on sex, money and power. I think over the last 20-30 years, hip-hop culture became a lot more subtle regarding the racial issues, which made the artists to talk more about what they desire and what they are proud of in today's society. I believe that black community talks about sex, money and power to show what they are capable of doing and i think thats the way they represent their culture - by showing those elements, i think, they bring people together. The racial issues today is a lot more subtle than it was back in the days, so I believe that these elements symbolyzes their culture and that's what they were desiring for the last few decades.

Justin Kaplan- Discussion Panel

I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion panel this week in class because it gave us a great inside look on the hip-hop and rap industry. Professor Pate and Melisa Riviere were extremely interesting and it was really cool to see the differences between the hip-hop and rap "spheres." After listening to the panelists I definitely stand by my beliefs in that I do not believe that vulgar lyrics have anything to do with the fact that hip-hop is at the top of the music industry. The hip-hop and rap industry has grown so much in the last 10-15 years and it is not because of the type of language that the artists are using in their songs. The way that children are brought up these days is a lot different than in the past and the music that they are listening to is also. According to Professor Pate, Hip-Hop and rap is a medium that helps to bring people together. The vulgar language has nothing to do with why hip-hop is at the top of the charts rather I believe that it has to do with the greater appreciation that us Americans have of the lyrics and the music that these artists are writing. I really enjoyed both panelists and I believe that they did a great job answering a lot of our questions that we had about the hip-hop and rap industry.

Josh Zaborowski

The panel discussion this week was very interesting and really put a real person’s perspective on the topic of hip-hop in today’s culture. We got a chance to listen to some different, opinionated, passionate views on the subject at hand. The question that I was most drawn to over the course of the discussion was the issue of what hip-hop does for the community. For example at one point Alex addressed the issue that hip-hop is a type of genre of music that could really bring people together. Hip-hop is produced by a variety of cultures and the enjoyment people get from the music really creates a common bonding ground for many different types of people. I also found it interesting when the panel touched on the issue of commercialism within the production of hip-hop and rap. Alex had some strong views on what he thought of commercialism and how large record labels tend to dominate the radio. Also, the fact that many radio stations plays the “popular? songs of the time, which really doesn’t give other music a chance to become as popular. This action by the record labels and radio stations can be seen as a bias action towards many other types of less “popular? or “radio friendly? music.

Candice Dehnbostel: Discussion Panel

Wednesday’s discussion with Professor Pate and Melisa Riviere was extremely interesting and informative. As someone who does not listen to hip-hop or rap, the panel offered insight into a genre and social/cultural milieu I was not familiar with. Both Professor Pate and Riviere are qualified experts on the topic, as they both are involved in the artistic and academic aspects of hip-hop. This idea of expertise and credibility was discussed in some depth on Wednesday. The difference between hip-hop spheres in academia and the community play an integral role in how hip-hop is understood. Professor Pate said he there should be a separation of these two spheres. In order to have critical interpretation and explanation the divide needs to be kept, otherwise hip-hop turns into nothing more than marketing and commercialism. Riviere called this a divide between practice and theory, yet at the same time hip-hop can be used to entertain and teach. She noted that hip-hop can give insights into the justice system, marginalization and social change.

The sole academic study of hip-hop may lose some experts’ credentials without the aesthetic appreciation as well. Hip-hop is meant to bring people together, and without both aspects this is harder to accomplish. Marginalized people and their product of hip-hop cannot support the exploitation experienced when hip-hop is without academic examination. Gangster rap looks at racial tensions and police brutality. Other forms of hip-hop deal with government and personal empowerment, all of which need academic exploration. These issues are not always understood by those who do not have to deal with racism or inequality. Hip-hop can act as an “excursion into cultures different than your own,? which Professor Pate said is a good thing. Though scholarship focusing on hip-hop is young, it is out there and should be used in framing social and cultural understanding.

Panel Discussion Reflections - Amanda Palazzo

I will admit that rap music and the hip-hop culture is not something that I actively pursue and consume. With that, I was somewhat skeptical that the panel discussion “Hip-Hop Culture and American Politics: Past and Present,? was going to be something that held my attention. Despite my trepidation, though, I found the panelists, Alexs Pate and Melisa Riviere, knowledgeable and informative, and their discussion interesting and thought provoking. They provided a different prospective to the world of hip-hop than that in which I was familiar (i.e. the “gangsta? stereotype) and made me understand the history and motivations behind this music and culture.

In preparation for the panel discussion, I prepared a question to be answered by the panelists. My question was regarding the overwhelming popularity of hip-hop music amongst the white populace. I was curious to find out what the draw was for this demographic, as it concerns issues that might not be relative to most. In addressing this question, Prof. Pate stated that it is harder to trace urban purchasing of hip-hop music and products, because it does not take into account the bootleg copies being produced and other indiscernible ways of consuming this product. For white consumers, with more of an expendable income, information on their purchasing habits are more easy to come by, as their purchases are usually made at large retailers, on the record. This explanation seems to address discrepancies in the product consumption records, but does not explain why there is such an interest in this music, by this demographic.

What both Prof. Pate and Prof. Riviere mentioned that might explain this interest, is the way hip-hop music and culture “brings people together.? They stated that rap and hip-hop is used when people want to resist and that it is essentially a rallying call, a means for people to gather and provide a united front against their oppressor. This explanation shows why not only white audiences, who may be fighting their “oppressor? on a more local or personal scale, but audiences the world over, have been drawn to the powerful medium of hip-hop music.

Alexander Culverwell

I really enjoyed the evening and particularly enjoyed what Profesor Pate had to say. I liked the way that I learned a lot more about hip-hop and rap rather than just knowing it as music that I listen to on a daily basis. It kind of put it in an new perspective for me.

Question: WireTrap mentions that hip hop is dead. But Jeff Chang disagrees and says that it is a different type of hip hop that was heard 10 to 15 years ago. What is your opinion on the condition of hip hop in today’s age?

Hip-hop has always been associated with the youth culture and not really with the older generations. Therefore, the hip-hop of today is different to the music that was classed as hip-hop 10 to 15 years ago. People of the older generation remember their style of the music, which is now completely different. Because of this they interpret it as being dead, as it is not what it used to be. So from that point of view, you could class hip-hop as being dead because it is not the same as it was a decade ago. However, like everything else in our world; it has evolved. The hip-hop of today's age reflects the youth of today. That is why it is not the same, but that does not mean it is dead. I would say it us very much alive, as it is a huge money making business. I am sure in another decade this same discussion will be taking place because, yet again the hip-hop music will be different from now and from the past, but it is because the people who are making it are putting their mark on o it.

Rap and Hip-Hop Panel Discussion - David Belair

I enjoyed the panel discussion, but was disappointed when Prof. Pate left early. I was really interested in all he had to say, and felt the discussion was lacking after he departed. I felt in the short time he was there he really had everyone's attention and had many interesting things to say. I was expecting a longer session, and think the length of the evening may have been influenced by Prof. Pate's leaving. I am glad I was there, and it was very informative, just maybe not all that I was expecting.

The topic I took the most from was hip hop and how it translates to academics. Prof. Pate made a point that hip hop and the academic study of hip hip should be seperate from each other. His point was that the academics should be on the outside of the hip hop scene, in the background and listening to the music that is being produced. The academics are the watch dog that keeps the "poetry" real, and out of the mainstream. They are not the experts on the music, but they teach how to think about the music. Prof. Riviere made the point that hip hip is the carrot to get the student to learn other aspects of American history. By having students in her hip hop class, she is able to also teach them about other events in our history, such as the civil right movement.

Hip hop has sort of taken over for folk singers, such as Dylan and others, as the new protest music. Prof. Riviera made a good point about the lack of powerful political hip hop and rap today. She stated that when there is more repression there is greater protestation. Meaning that at this point in our history, there is less to protest about than there was in the past. There are still powerful messages coming out of hip hop, unfortunately, they are not getting mass play on radio stations and are more underground than in the past.

Panel Discussion- Craig Smith

Question: How do you feel about the large trend of young white people attempting to adopt the hip hop "lifestyle" when it was born largely out of oppression, poverty, exposure to violence, etc., which many of the young white fans have never experienced?

Answer from Prof. Pate (extremely paraphrased): Any time one culture is actively exposing themselves to another culture, it is a good thing.

Professor Pate and Melisa had a lot of very interesting things to say during the panel discussion Wednesday. As a fan of hip hop, and most all other genres of music, I was excited to hear what they had to say. As a white person growing up in the racially homogenized suburbs of Milwaukee, I never experienced many of the things hip hop poets (to use Prof. Pate's term) spoke of. As I got older, branched out from white suburbia, and started to become "enlightened" to the social inequalities faced by Black individuals and other non-White people, I began to wonder if I had any business or "right" listening to hip hop. Listening to Mos Def's song, Mr. N****, is a prime example of this feeling I had. Mos raps about various experiences he has had with White people stereotyping him because he is Black. "Late night I'm on a first class flight, the only brother in sight, the flight attendant catch fright. I sit down in my seat 2C, she approach officially talkin' 'bout 'Excuse me'. Her lips curl up into a tight space, She don't believe that I'm in the right place. Showed her my boarding pass, and then she sort of gasped, all embarrassed put an extra lime on my water glass. An hour later here she comes by walking past, 'I hate to be a pest but my son would love your autograph', Wowwwww" (Mos Def). So, I'd listen to that song and in the back of my mind I'd wonder: "What if Mos Def was sitting next to me right now as I listen to his song about his experiences of white people oppressing him?" It definitely crossed my mind that he might say: "What the fuck are you listening to this for?", or something to that effect. Instead, reinforced by what Professor Pate had to say, I feel that Mos might be glad I was hearing his words. Even though I can't identify with the experiences Mos tells his listeners, I am learning through his song how racism is still a big problem worldwide. Although it isn't the same "brand" of racism it was 20, 50 or 150 years ago, it is still around. The flight attendant thought he couldn't possibly be sitting in first class because of her own prejudices. Once she realizes it is his seat, she gives him an extra lime to make it all better, then has the nerve to ask for his autograph, apparently not even realizing the gravity of her racist attitude towards him. It was an eye opening experience to listen to what the panelists had to say on Wednesday. I'll definitely continue to be a fan of hip hop, and hopefully the words from the artists I listen to will continue to enlighten me to the problems African Americans and others face in the world.

Hip Hop Panel/Ashley Bergman

One thing I've never understood before last Wednesday was what the difference between Hip Hop and Rap Music was. Theresa Martinez' article introduced to me the idea that rap was a component of hip hop along with breakdancing and grafitti, but Alexs Pate and Melisa Reviere cleared that up even further. Pate claimed that hip hop is a culture, and rap is the literature of that culture. Moreover they discussed how hip hop was an oppositional culture making comments to the mainstream: low-riding pants, house shoes, and sideways hats being as social commentary more than bad fashion sense. This really blew my mind, personally, because I've always looked at that style of dress as disrespectful and grungy, but when I look at it that way-- it's just like how Muslims wear veils and Hmongs have their own traditional dress they wear sometimes, only those involved in the hip hop culture who dress that way are taking it a step further, using their clothes as a statement which I find very respectable. You kind of have to respect people who do their own thing in a country that encourages conformity and peer pressure.

Thanh Diep Truong

It was good to be learn more about rap and hip-hop during the discussion last week. I myself is not a fan of any kind of hip-hop or rap music. I never listen to those songs on MTV or the radio. However, I still have some reference of what those songs are usually about and stereotypes about them. It's hard to be in American and not be influenced by those type of music. I have always thought those hip-hop and rap songs on MTV are what the hip-hop culture is all about. I have always thought of them as meaningless songs fill with booty shaking, pretty girls, hot cars, and profanities. It was great to learn that those song actually are the "bad literature" or "bad poetry", according to Page. It it exciting to learn the difference between hip-hop and rap. Page said that hip-hop is a culture, where rap is the literature of that culture. He said that the words of rap has singular significant. It's like a language of a culture. Also, I have also learned that rap is local; it's microscopic. It's an element in the hip-hop culture. It's is the first African-American export. It's within the hip-hop culture which brings the people closer together.
I think it's essential to remember that rap is a form of poetry, and the "rappers" are poets. I liked how Page made that me see how the real rap poetry is different from the rap on MTV.

Rap and Hip-Hop Panel Discussion - Alec Charais

The question I was most interested in having answered was based on Debra Rosethal’s article “Hoods and Woods: Rap Music as Environmental Literature.? Associating rap music with the inner-city gang culture has long existed, and I had always wondered what the distinction between rap and hip-hop was. This was one of the first discussions held by the panel of Alexs Pate and Melisa Riviere.

The explanation that hip-hop is a culture, whereas rap is the literature of that culture makes some sense. Alexs went on to explain that rap is a form of poetry used to literate opposition to the dominant mainstream. I find it interesting, however, that if rap is in resistance to mainstream, its commercialization has essentially watered down or eroded the principles in which it was founded.

Alexs placed this idea in excellent context. He feels that there is “good? rap, non-mainstream poetry that could accurately be viewed as a descriptor of its society (this is the argument Rosenthal discusses) and “bad? rap, which would included a more commercialized form of its music (including artists such as Nelly and Will Smith).

Melisa discussed this commercialization in much larger detail later in the discussion. She maintains that hip-hop, and therefore rap music, is still very political on a global level. In the United States, rap is no longer the tool for social change it once was. I think a big reason for this is goes beyond the mass marketing of rap as a consumer product. Rap in its “good? form, and to some extent in its “bad? form, does not reach the demographic that the polarizing music of artists such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and others in the past. Because rap music represents a domestic, territorial, and perhaps a socially biased audience, it fails to spring the masses into action in the same ways music used to.

Derek Peltier

The panel discussion this week in class was actually really interesting. One of the questions that I had for this week was whether or not I believed that there has been a huge increase in hip-hop criticism? I do believe that there has been an increase in criticism when it comes to hip-hop. I feel that a big reason for the criticism is because a lot of people don't know where the artists are coming from and getting their ideas from. They do not live the life of a lot of hip-hop artists, so I feel that for some people it is hard to connect with the music and in turn they criticize it.
The next question that was brought to my attention was do I feel that hip-hop is bigger than rap music and that hip-hop is one of the biggest art movements in the last couple decades. I do feel that hip-hop is bigger than rap music and it might just be because I enjoy hip-hop over rap. It is a personal preference and I enjoying listening to hip-hop a lot more. I do not know if I would go to say that hip-hop is one of the biggest art movements in the last couple decades. I do believe that it is a pretty big movement and it is popular to certain people. Obviously some people enjoy it more than others and those people who do enjoy it would probably say that it is a huge art movement.

Hip-Hop/Rap Discussion- Anthony Zerka

Hip-hop has helped introduce the everyday struggles in which a certain person goes through when living in a place where poverty, unemployment, and police brutality is common. Having pride in the city, or neighborhood where a person may grow up in, influences their music. When a person is experiencing an unequal justice, they write about it. These feelings are interpreted into songs and that is how the struggle is addressed and displayed in the media. For example, in the song, "Welcome to Compton" by N.W.A. starts off with Ice Cube saying, "When something happens in Compton, nothin' happens, it's just anotha' n*gga dead." How can one person believe that seeing person dead is an everyday ordeal? Murray Forman states "Rap music takes the city and its multiple spaces as the foundation of its cultural production. In the music and lyrics, the city is an audible presence, explicitly and digitally sampled in the reproduction of the aural textures of the urban environment." I was born in Flint, Michigan, which is rated the third most dangerous city in the United States. There is a rap group (or rap poets) name Dayton's Family, and they are all about having pride in Flint. The hardship a family goes through is expressed in their songs such as "FlintTown" and "Welcome to Flint." The residents in any city can connect to the songs portraying their city. This genre of music has helped the black community grow stronger, thanks to the media. The truth an artists writes about appeals to everyone living in the current state of either experiencing unemployment, poverty, etc. Artists such as Atmosphere represents Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jay-Z with New York City, New York, and Kanye West making songs about Chicago, Illinois. The connection a person feels, such as myself, when hearing a song about their city is strong. The lyrics in songs is not always negative, most are rather pride-related, such as Atmosphere's song, "Say Shhh..." which is about the great city of Minneapolis and its beauty. Hip-hop evolved into a voice where anyone can speak their mind and influence many.

Cameron Lee

The panel this week was far more interesting than I had expected. However the biggest question that arises after listening to them was how one can say they are an expert of a subject that really isn't established yet in major centers of learning. If there is no one to teach, how are you the expert? Aside from that I thought that they had a good grasp on what they were discussing and Alex had some very opinionated views on the subject that he was very able to back up. They also answered a question I always thought about that is the radio broadcast of "popular" songs. The method they use cannot allow for real music to catch on and only lets the large labels monopolize the radio. What also intrigued me was the discussion on how one may define hip hop. Melissa's explanation was far more intricate than what I had believed hip hop was defined as. I do agree with Alex in his opinion that rap is the first real export of the black community. From that has stemmed so many more things that could be considered constructive additions to society and what they have contributed has many more faces than just music.

Jeff Tow Arnett

In Foucaults Turntble Hip-Hop Scholars Bumrush the Academy Hua Hsu brings up a very good question concerning hip-hop culture in today’s society. For this weeks hip-hop discussion panel the question I was most eager to have answered was “How has hip-hop's political culture been influenced by its ever-present performances of materialism or violence? (Hsu, 2003)?. In today’s society the views of hip-hop by mainstream culture is that hip-hop focuses on materialism and gang violence. However after listen to the panel experts my perceptions changed about hip-hop in today’s society.
Professor Pate’s explanation between "bad" rap becoming popular in today’s society along with introducing students to black traditions and the historical successes of hip-hop culture was very intriguing and informative. It gave me a whole new perspective of hip-hop culture that there are African Americans out there who do not like T.I and Nelly but do believe that the hip-hop culture is important.
Secondly Riviere’s explanation about way bad hip-hop music gets played on the radio was very informative. Someone asked if the popular hip-hop music of today’s era was an example of artists just "giving the people what they want" or if the artist creates it and pushes it upon the people. Riviere’s explanation of how big record companies have departments and people specifically positioned to "jam the stations" was intriguing because most people will have no idea that’s what really happens. She went on talking about how really hip-hop outside of the United States is very influential tool for challenging mainstream cultures where as the United States is controlled by big corporate companies.

Rap & Hip-Hop Response - Jon Marshalla

2) In the article “Prophets of Rage: Rap Music, Politics of Black Cultural Expression,? Rose states that “Confining the discussion of politics in rap to lyrical analysis addresses only the most explicit dimension of the politics of contemporary black cultural expression.? (124)
• Do you agree that rap music has as strong of an influence on politics as many critics seem to believe?
• Are the lyrics of rap and hip-hop less influential than the culture associated with it?
• Should rap music strictly be associated with black culture? What about the influence it now has on white suburbia? What about rappers such as Eminem?

Rap music most definitely has a strong influence on politics. It is not a direct influence, but is caused by a cultural shift that spawns from rap music. It is also crucial to understand what kind of rap music has the ability to change politics and culture. As so vehemently stated by the panelists, it is not the mainstream "Soulja Boy" songs that speak to a culture and have a political influence. The lyrics, lifestyle and representation from these songs only serve to hurt the African American culture and make it appear almost cheesy and extremely sexual and violent to the outside observer. Musicians have the ability to influence culture, culture has the ability to influence people, and people have the ability to influence politics, so it all flows downhill. As to how musicians do this, the lyrics have a huge influence, however, even when the lyrics are incomprehensible, the culture and behavior of those musicians rubs off onto the listeners. The same influence that singers of the '60s had on teenage America is now the influence that rappers are having on African American culture in as well as politically and throughout America as a whole. Rap music is not just intended to influence African American culture. The panelist on Wednesday told a story of how a white girl in one of his classes was going to a rap concert, and a black girl in his class blew up on her and got all upset the white girl was listening to "her music" while she herself couldn't afford to go." In response to this the panelist asked her: "Would you rather she turn into a racist, despised all black music and culture, verbally abused African American culture and emulated everything that African Americans have been trying to change, or would you prefer that she embrace rap and black culture?" The answer is obvious, and shows how rap music is not and should be intended solely for black culture. True rappers are like poets, conveying their message to American culture and trying to make a difference for the better.

Rap and Hip-hop Panel -Tammy Woehler

This week in class, we had a discussion panel on the topic of Rap and Hip-hop. The discussion panelists were Melissa and Alexs. One question that intrigued a great answer was, "What's the difference between Rap and Hip-hop?" I thought it was very interesting that Rap is seen as a part of Hip-hop. I never knew that, let alone thought about the possibility. I thought it was very interesting because I enjoy the Hip-hop style, but not Rap. But then Alexs brought up an excellent point that what we hear today on KDWB, B96, etc. is not real rap. That is what he calls, "bad rap." The "good" rap does not come from rappers. It comes from musical poets. Maybe I judged rap too quickly, since I haven't heard the "good" stuff yet. But that brings up another good point/question from the discussion. Why haven't we heard the "good" stuff on the radio? Is it just not popular? It's not that it's not popular, it's just that the radio airtime has been overtaken by record companies with lots of money who buy the airtime, guaranteeing that their music will be played on the radio. Unfortunately, this means the "good" stuff might not be heard on the highly publicized radio stations. It will have to be more of local effort to make names of the good musical poets, spreading their names by word of mouth.

Discussion Panel - Amanda Ruffalo

The discussion panel was really entertaining. One of the most interesting ideas I took out of the discussion was when Alexs answered the question regarding the difference between hip hop and rap. He responds by saying, "hip hop is a culture and rap is the literature of that culture". This made it easier for me to image how hip hop and rap relate to each other. I, personally, am not a big fan of rap. But the rap I don't like is what Alexs labels, "bad rap" from such artists as T.I. or Nelly and the "good rap" doesn't come from these rappers, but from "musical poets" such as Mos Def. Also what I found interesting is the idea that hip hop brings people together. Whether it be white, black, latino, asian, etc.... hip hop has the capacity to bring different cultures together. Everyone listens to it or has heard it and can talk to each other or relate to each other on some level regarding it. That's the good thing about hip hop, different cultures, different backgrounds, can enjoy the same type of music.

Kendra Elm discussion Panel

In this weeks discussion panel the Melissa and Alex discussed hip-hop music and how it relates to the culture of America. They both come from unique backgrounds and have different perspectives on what hip-hop is and how it is an expressing of feelings and surroundings. One of the most interesting parts of the debate, I thought, was when Alex was talking about how hip-hop is an expression of the culture of the person, their life and where they live. He refers to musical artists as poets, and they are writing poetry, which tells the story of their lives. I thought this was an interesting twist, because many people don’t see rap and hip-hop as a form of art like they do poetry.
Aside from the usual talk about what is hip-hop and what defines hip-hop, the two talked about if they felt hip-hop culture and music should be taught in schools. In some of the readings for the week they talk about how there are college professors who teach hip-hop, but don’t know anything about the subject. Some also asked the question, should hip-hop be taught in schools. I thought Melissa had a very interesting answer to this questing. She said in her class hip-hop is not necessarily taught in school, but instead hip-hop is the tool used to take a journey through history and learn about different cultures across the globe. Alex also had a good response, he talked about how hip-hop is such a young style of music that it is difficult to teach in schools because it’s only been around for about fifty years. Because hip-hop is a relatively new music style it is difficult to pin down what exactly it is, and what qualifies as hip-hop, and what should be done about it, if anything.
I thought this debate was very well done. All sides of hip hop were shown in a positive light and it helped give me a better understanding of the culture involved in hip-hop and how important it is to the culture of the united states.

Rap and Hip-Hop Panel Reflections- Melissa Green

I found the Hip-Hip panel to extremely interesting and entertaining. I was surprised to learn that rap is a subset of hip-hop, rather than a new form altogether. I had always assumed that hip-hop was rap but with more "traditional" musical conventions than rap. However, hip-hop is a kind of sub-culture, complete with its own elements and various artistic styles such as dance, graffiti, music, and poetry. I also found it reassuring that there still exists hip-hop that makes social commentary on issues such as poverty, race, and drugs. The commercialization and involvement in capital has unfortunately kept much of this kind of music underground. Instead, we are innundated with hip-hop that revolves around sex, money, and the objectification of women. This crap rap does not really represent the original spirit of community togetherness that rap once did, nor does it attempt to affect social change. What I hope will happen in the future is that another group like Public Enemy will become popular in the mainstream, and thus bring important issues to the forefront of American consciousness. As whites are the largest consumers of hip-hop in the country, hearing socially conscious music will bring these problems to the ears of all those who need to hear it.

Discussion Panel (Jeff Batts)

Well, to put it bluntly, my discussion questions turned out to be totally unrelated to what the panel talked about. I was assuming it was going to be more related to the course as opposed to the hip-hop discussion that it turned out to be. I have next to zero knowledge on the subject, so this discussion was hard for me to follow. My only 'rap' knowledge is whatever song happens to be the flavor of the month, like the Soulja Boy, or Lil Jon, or whatever song is getting played at every sporting event at the time. So, I'm just going to throw the 'answering of my question' out the window because, let's face it, it's way off base.
So, a lot of what was discussed helped me realize what hip hop actually was, and that it's different than rap. Alexs was especially helpful when he discussed the 4 aspects of hip hip, and put in more of a lifestyle context than a form of music. I knew that most the rap put out nowadays is meaningless and only there to make a quick buck. However, before the I couldn't name one of the real rap artists that Alexs mentioned, such as Lupe Fiasco. I've since listened to a little bit of Lupe's songs, and although I'm clearly no expert on the topic, I can hear a difference in the lyrics and tones. There's no gimmick dance attached to his work, and certainly no sweat drop down his balls. It seems to be a more educated style.
So, while this forum helped my get a very basic understanding of rap and hip hop, it left some questions unanswered. I was hoping that Alexs and Melisa would talk about the effect of the mainstream rap on black culture, and whether or not they thought it was a good or a bad thing. From my opinion, it certainly helps to act as a unifier, but at the same time, with the revolving door of rap 'stars', it seems to be watering down rap as an art form.

Jeff Batts

Reflections on Panel Discussion

In the interview article about his book, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop, Jeff Chang responds to particular questions about Hip-Hop in relation to his book. Chang states that, “hip-hop art is way bigger than rap music, and in fact it is probably one of the biggest arts movements of the last few decades? (1). Before the discussion panel last week, I was having difficulty deciphering the distinctions between rap and hip-hop. It was not until Melissa explained the intricacies of the four basic elements of hip-hop that everything began making sense. She explained that hip-hop is a form of culture that is oppositional to the dominant mainstream, which is portrayed by utilizing the elements of DJing (turntables), graffiti (art/tagging), break dancing, and MCing (rapping). At this point, it became clear that the lyricism of hip-hop (rap) was merely one of the principal elements of hip-hop.

Chang also discusses the explosion and proliferation of hip-hop arts as a global art form. This was another concept that confused me at first because I did not understand why people around the world, of different cultures and nationalities, speaking different languages, would care about hip-hop. This was addressed in the discussion panel in that hip-hop is multicultural and brings the people of the world together. It was interesting to think of hip-hop as being “multicultural? because it does not really have a “color?. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you are Black, White, Indian, Chinese or Iranian – as long as you are oppressed and are in some form marginalized from a dominant mainstream, hip-hop will be there as your form of “oppositional culture?. Just as Theresa Martinez explains, “oppositional culture? is a term that describes subcultures that consciously reject mainstream values and norms (Martinez, 265) regardless of what cultural category one might fall into.

-Hasti Fashandi

Rap and Hip-Hop Panel - Kim Hanlon

My question for the discussion panel talked about the idea of hip-hop being taught in colleges and University’s across the nation. I asked the panel what they thought of ‘hip-hop experts’ teaching college students and how they could call themselves ‘experts’ since there is no such degree in hip-hop.
In defining hip-hop and rap the panel discussed hip-hop as being a culture and rap being a form of expression. They saw hip-hop being defined by four major areas of life/culture, lyricist (rap), breakdancing, turntable (DJ), and graffiti.
In discussing hip-hop in college both of the panelists enjoyed what they teach, here at the University, but they believe that there needs to be more talk about literature and ‘rap poets’. They would also like to find new ways to talk about hip-hop. They discussed combining practicing the art, theory and academia.
Credibility is also very important; the panel believes that whoever decides to teach hip-hop or the culture surrounding it. The panelists have extensive background in hip-hop, literature and rap.

Katherine Rivard: Hip-Hop Panel reflection

I was very excited to attend the panel, being myself a fan of many local hip-hop artists; I enjoyed it and I found the panel interesting, but I would agree with Jasmine in that, “The panelists gave long answers to the questions, and sometimes danced around the original question rather than giving a direct answer? (Thoughts). For example, the question was raised about the role of hip-hop’s increasing prevalence in American academic institutions today compared to just a few years ago. This was one question I asked for our panel question assignment. I felt that panelists did a good job on elaborating on the history of the culture of hip-hop and how academia “incorporates theory into learning about the culture,? however, I felt that there could have been more context and clear elaboration on how hip-hop has contributed to the academic landscape and vice-versa, how academia has contributed to hip-hop, and why is it important for students to be exposed to and have a better understanding of hip-hop culture (Rivière).
In Reyhan Harmanci’s article, Academic Hip-Hop? Yes, Yes Y’All, he quotes Adam Mansbach and his elaboration on the importance of hip-hop as a major academic study: “Hip-hop forces those in the academy to examine a people’s culture, so to study it, you have to be among people. You can’t look at scholarship in the typical way? (4). Mansbach explains that the study of hip-hop has contributed to academia in that it is now an elemental aspect of modern American anthropology; a culture in which we can observe and learn from face-to-face, a culture in which is prevalent in nearly all areas of our country today. In almost no other discipline is this true.

Rob Skogen

Back in the days when I was a teenager
Before I had status and before I had a pager
You could find the Abstract listening to hip hop
My pops used to say, it reminded him of be-bop
I said, well daddy don’t you know that things go in cycles
The way that Bobby Brown is just ampin like Michael

--A Tribe Called Quest “Excursions?, from The Low End Theory (1991)

This week’s hip-hop forum was a welcome diversion to the usual weekly film study. A much appreciated shout out to Alexs, Eddie and Melisa for contributing their thoughts and time to helping us put this vibrant movement into the socio-political context we have been working in this semester.

Just as with any other academic conversation, this one began with setting boundaries. Hip-hop was defined as a culture of opposition to the mainstream, one that embodies more elements than simply the rap music to which most in would like to confine it. That being said, however, does not make discussion of rap music less important. Which brings me to the question I would like to focus on.

Tricia Rose’s chapter Prophets of Rage: Rap Music and the Politics of Black Cultural Expression discusses the concept of rap music as a form of expression in “a long history of black cultural subversion and the social critique in music and performance (99)?, one that serves as a way to give a voice to those experiences that are ignored or marginalized by the dominant public transcript.

• With the obvious parallels between the jazz cultures of the past and the hip-hop culture of today makes this is a
valid assertion? Or do you believe that the hip-hop movement represents a break with previous generations and is a unique phenomenon?

While discussing the poetic/literary value of rap music and the distinctions between “good? and “bad? art found in the movement, Alexs made a curious assertion that it “is probably the first true artistic export of the African American culture?. This idea runs counter to the argument presented by Tricia Rose and I am not sure I agree either.

Making this statement requires us to ignore the past. Does this dismiss or deny the importance of historical African American artistic movements? For example, in parallel with the Great Migration of blacks into the industrialized Northern cities during the 1920s came the Harlem Renaissance. There was an explosion of literary and musical contributions made by black jazz artists, poets, and authors like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes. There was also another such movement a generation later by artists such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright.

I find it extremely hard to speak to the present without understanding and acknowledging the past. Maybe there is more to it than that for Alexs to make the claim he did. I would really like to find out more if that is the case.

reflections on discussion pannel- Jordan Swan

The individualism of the genre of hip hop is fundamental to its sustainability. By not directly laying out the origins of hip hop it has allowed itself to be interpreted in a multitude of different ways. Every person moved by the art form can take what they want from it make mold it to make the most out of it for themselves. This allowed it to flourish and spread, because it could be used by any one for personal means. Hip Hop music is often cited by the panel as a form of poetry, and when looking at it through this lens one can see how it has been able to maintain its values as if moved from one cultural group to the next. If this art is thought of as poetry it can draw upon the historical parallels of the two and use it them as justification as to why the form deserves the utmost respect when being considered by the individual crafting the message or the even from the listener. By setting the by attaching a separate set of fundamentals of one art form to another that has purposefully chosen not to establish their own you are ensuring that it has some sort of rational meaning to exist and that is should be carefully considered by other age and race groups as apposed to being cast off as something for a specific group.

Reflections on Discussion Panel_Chris Remy

Music has much to say about society as well as these two presenters for our guest lecture have shown. The one man who teaches African American studies at the university and has published seven books tells us that rap music is not really a type of music but a way of life. While the other women who teaches a class hear and at Hamline tells us that rap music is divided into 4 separate parts. All together though the best part of their answer to what this music actually is was by their comments that music is a mainstream that brings people from all over. Whether it is during times of war or times of happiness there is always music. This makes so much sense and I have never really thought about it that way. I go to church and they play music, I go to see a movie and there is music in it, I go to a night club and there is music. No matter where I go, there is almost always music somewhere being involved. So it is more than a passive mainstream from what Jeff Chang said, it is an active mainstream for which people can access by going to a crowd of people.

A second good point that was outlined in this discussion was the notion of “picking a spot.? In other words musicians just pick a spot and than know something about that spot to write a song about it. There is nearly music about every spot that someone has been and this is a good example of how music travels with you and how it just bring people together it brings people to places they have never been. All in all, this discussion was a great idea that opened many new doors for me that I have never really thought about music. On top of all that I am going to look further in to classes taught by both of these professors, because they were very interesting.

Hip-Hop as culture-Elizabeth Bassett

Prior to reading the assigned literature of the week and the panel discussion, I had thought of hip-hop and rap as two separate genres of music with little social implications. To me, rap and hip-hop were mainly music of the black community, music that characters such as Doughboy from Boyz ‘N the Hood would have enjoyed. With the readings and seeing Milena Riviere and Alexs Pate, however, my opinions on the topic were highly modified.
Throughout this course, we have been focusing on countercultures and groups such as the hippies and others who have defied culture norms. As hip-hop itself represents counterculture ideas of going against the mainstream, I now see the relevance of this topic in relation to this course. I thought it was fascinating when Alexs Pates spoke of hip-hop as being a culture in and of itself. Then, Milena Riviere went on to talk about how rap and graffiti are elements of hip-hop instead of separate identities. Riviere discussed how rap is the literature of the culture as it represents the words and thoughts to listeners. Thinking of graffiti, the panel discussion opened my eyes to the idea behind this artform. Initially, I had thought graffiti to simply be a form of vandalism that held artistic value when painted on a proper surface. Now, I realize that it is a sign of possession of a territory within the hip-hop culture.
Another eye-opening element that was revealed on the panel was women’s place in the culture of hip-hop. Now, as I reflect on this, I recognize the lack of female hip-hop artists commonly seen in American society today. The few female artists that have managed to make names for themselves have done so by fitting in to a stereotype of who the mainstream wishes them to be. One of the best examples of this is Beyonce who has molded into the goddess of beauty and sensuality due to the effects of the mainstream expectations. This in and of itself is defiant of hip-hop in its ideals of going against the mainstream and popular culture. Instead, it sends the message that males are able to do anything they want, while females are forced to stay within specified lines of behavior.

April 26, 2008

Thoughts on the Hip Hop Panel - Jasmine Omorogbe

I found the panel to be interesting, but at the same time, somewhat lackluster. The panelists gave long answers to the questions and sometimes, danced around the original question rather than giving a direct answer. I understand schedule conflicts and such, however, I would have enjoyed (1) more panelists (2) panelists from varied backgrounds, possibly an actual rapper as to illustrate opinions from both theory and practice.

I was quite surprised by fellow classmate, Sarah Osborne's comment in her blog response that she expected the panelists to be more "thuggish". What does that even mean? Do you automatically only associate hip hop with "thugs"? However, that is an issue for a different panel, i guess.

There were a few points that resonated with me throughout the panel:

I was quite pleased with the way Pate handled the question about the validity of academics in hip hop. I had never really thought of that aspect. Critics and scholars serve as "protectors" of the art form. There to record its history as well as constantly challenge it. They are objective observers who support the art but are there to ask the tough questions about it. They are still participants of the culture, just through the form of scholarship.

Secondly, the explanation that Melisa Riviere gave about the way music gets played on the radio was very informative to me. One of my questions was in reference to Tricia Rose's discussion about rap as "apolitical party music" versus it being more political, "complex and direct". (Rose 276). I was wondering if the mainstream music of today was an example of artists just "giving the people what they want" or if the artist create it and push it upon the people. Her explanation of how big record companies have departments and people specifically positioned to "jam the stations" was intriguing and the average person may not know that. It seems as if radio is a democracy, people call in and request songs, etc but really the gatekeeping aspect of the system is in full effect. In a capitalist system, it makes sense, money makes the world go round. However, as far as integrity, conglomerates/big controlling companies help make it so that that is not a core value within the music business. thus, in the end, radio is only another vehicle that is being used to drive hip hop into the ground.

Discussion Panel- Jackie Claypool

This week, instead of watching a movie we participated in a “Hip Hop Culture and American Politics: Past and Present? discussion where there were two hip hop scholars present. One of the first questions that was discussed was what the real difference between Hip Hop and rap was. The hip hop scholars responded to this by saying that hip hop is made up of many elements which include rap and other things like break dancing, productions, fashion, etc. Hip hop is a culture that is against the dominant mainstream, and rap is the literature of this culture. Rap music has always been about representing a certain area within a state, city, or where ever that is about the people that live there.

Another main questions that was discussed was the presence of women in hip hop, and why there didn’t seem to be as many of them as men. One of the Hip Hop scholars responded to this by saying first that there have been women involved in hip hop since the beginning, and in fact the “big bang? that started hip hop was done by a woman. Masculinity in hip hop is so pervasive that it drowns out women and as a result of this many women that begin their hip hop careers start off with a sort of masculine identity, to help them, in a sense, fit in and become one of the guys.

Forum

Christina Johnston

Hip hop Forum

I really, really enjoyed going to this forum and left with a new understanding of the reasons why we study popular culture—specifically hip hop and rap and the way that they identify their individual artists. They answered a myriad of questions, but a few that stuck out in my mind were the ones regarding the implications of the lack of a message in modern hip hop and mainstream rap songs. They explained that the lack of political message in the mainstream is in and of itself a reflection of a lack of political influence in society. I found this to be really interesting because often mainstream rap gets written off as just for the teenyboppers and not worth analyzing; they argued that you can analyze the reasons behind its lack of message and what that means to society.

I was also unaware that graffiti’s importance lies primarily in its location, and not its content. I always thought that graffiti was more of an artistic expression instead of a “territorial tattoo? if you will. When I look at graffiti, I think of it appearance, and not the meaning behind it and the geographical population that it represents. It opens up the possibilities for analyzing the urban space and how “urban territories? are determined. They also mentioned that the reasons behind graffiti in urban areas as opposed to suburbia are worthy of study. Why do they feel the need to identify their space with graffiti? Does it mean that they don’t feel like they have a place in society? These are just a few of the new ways of looking at hip hop that I got from this forum, in addition to rap as literature, and the importance of professors to shepherd rap analysis in academia, the importance of theory and practice in tandem, and that the cost of exploitation by mainstream is overcome by the unifying effect of hip hop culture.


Hip Hop Panel Discussion- Liz Vieira

The discussion of the role of academics in hip hop and the divide between theory and practice were very enlightening to me because I am writing my honors thesis on the struggle between theory and practice for Cultural Studies. Professor Pate's argument that he wants to be the academic who is separate from the hip hop world was compelling to me. The importance of having people who are separate, external forces who "legitimize" the lifestyle is an area that is probably overlooked for many traditional theorists who only interact with other academics.

The discussion of how popularizing rap has affected its abilities to act a radical protest approaches the answer to my question about how a popular form of entertainment can function as a critique of dominant hegemonies. The struggle between "bad" rap becoming popular but introducing students to black tradtions and the historical successes of groups in promoting a message demonstrates that it has the abilities to subvert hegemonies. Important moments in hip hop history have centered on political activism, like "The Revolution will Not Be Televised" and Public Enemy. So it definitely has the ability to be a political mode of communication and the problem is that the dominant means have seized the same mode of communication, but the ability to use it in subversive ways is still potential.

April 25, 2008

Jess Doll: Hip-Hop Panel

Reyhan Harmanci author of, "Academic Hip-Hop? Yes, Yes, Y'all" states that academic hip-hop is in its third decade," . . . And it has become one of the most explosive subjects to hit academia in decades" (1). During our Wednesday night discussion, panelists Alexs Pate (professor in the Department of African and African American Studies) and Milena Riviere (professor in the Department of Anthropology) shed some light on the many aspects of hip-hop, one of them being, "what is hip-hop?"

Panelist Alexs Pate stated that hip-hop is a culture and an opposition to the mainstream while Milena Riviere stated that hip-hop consists of four elements, break dance, turntables, rap, and lyricism. Alexs stressed that there is a large difference in the mainstream "rap" we hear on the radio compared to the authentic "hip-hop" of Public Enemy for example (i.e. good vs. evil).

The panelist briefly touched on one of my questions which was, "What role do the "various social movements of the 60s and 70s" play in regards to the current academic hip-hop explosion? Both panelists agreed that the more a group is repressed, the more likely it is that they will respond to social inequalities through arts and culture, specifically music where their once smothered voices could be heard.

Finally, no matter how one views hip-hop, it is clear that "hip-hop brings the people together" which indisputably benefits societies worlwide (Pate).

Rap and Hip-Hop Panel- Liz Eisler

The discussion of rap and hip-hop with panelists Alexs Pane and Melisa Riviere was very intriguing yet at the same time left me quite perplexed. I feel as though the topic of rap and hip-hop is so broad, consisting of many elements, concepts, and ideas that intertwine with one another based on a person’s perception, history, background, etc, that it’s quite hard to grasp a full concept of this powerful form of resistance. However, this is most likely due to the notion that scholarship on rap and hip-hop is rather young, and according to Pane, “a lot of people don’t understand the true political, social, and economical characteristics of it.? With that said, one major aspect that I gained from the panel as well as Tricia Rose is the importance of territory and hip-hop and understanding how to two relate to one another.

Tricia Rose argues that, “Cultural expressions of discontent are no longer protected by the insulated social sites that have historically encouraged the refinement of resistive transcripts? (Rose, p.101). Due to the nature of many obscene lyrics, rap and hip-hop have received much scrutiny. However, as Pane and Riviere discussed, through means of territory and physical space, artists have been able to freely express themselves through the global scene and the challenging of physical space. Rap and hip-hop have become a literature, or a language that connects people with their “click or crew? by challenging the physical space (Pane).

The Rapping Music - Thomas Kuppe

The one point that stood out the most for me during the panel discussion was that all the money for the hip hop world comes primarily from the suburbs because their consumption habits are more easily monitored for market trends. I think this fact alone has left a devastating effect on hip hop music as a whole because its dictated what direction its taken, ie, the drinking, partying, misogyny direction that appeals so much to middle class white people. Now that it's grown to be a multi-million dollar industry it has become difficult to change but we at least have a saving grace on the internet. Not only does the internet provide a much larger audience for musicians, but any of us can combat the music industry by doing the right thing: stealing music off the internet thus robbing the giant record companies of their money and loosening their grip on the music world, as well as eliminating the need for the radio's restrictive play list.
I think hip hop is still a very powerful voice in the counter culture movement because of its origin in poetry and free expression. However, I am skeptical that it will remain counter cultural forever, and our generations children will no doubt come up with a new genre of music to battle whatever evil we release upon the world.

Sydney Liles

I appreciated hearing from two lecturers who have studied this subject of rap and hip hop and both teach it. Alexs had a strong view point and made it clear that the music that is on the radio is “crap? rap. I agree with this for the reason that we ended this lecture on. Women in this industry. First there was the idea the Melissa was talking about in that if a woman messes up even one time she is no good, but a man is just working out the kinks and getting better. The idea of women in this industry making it big is few and far between. While a few have made it big, they have made it playing their roles. As said in lecture there is Beyonce playing the southern belle or Lil Kim playing to the gangster perspective. These women are welcome in the field but only in their particular roles. Then looking at the women and how they are portrayed in the lyrics is disgraceful. When listening to this music and not knowing what the slang terms mean, it is the beat that gets people to listening. I did not know what superman was before looking it up, and I would agree with Alexs replacement saying that it is disgusting and awful way to be portrayed. In most of the music that is played on the radio, it is disrespectful to women, portraying them as something that is there to satisfy men no matter what.
Looking at these lyrics in this non-cookie cutter rap I think opens up a different door. This is where it deals more with environment and what is around them. I do believe that this environment that they live in effects everyone that they are talking to. I do think that these lyrics mean more to people that are living through it, or can relate. So someone listening to Tupac would understand more being on the west coast then someone who is listening to Eminem. This I think ties into Melissa’s point about the graffiti when she was talking about Miami shine, etc.
With this environmental tie and the coming together through the music, hip hop is bringing people together. This, a young term, is spreading international and bringing people together all over the world. The way Alexs was talking about how these people were bonding over this music, I did get the sense that this was his way of fixing world peace. While I know everyone understands it is not that simple, he had this strong belief that this music and attitude is bringing people together in their own ways, even if it is just regionally.

April 24, 2008

Hip Hop Panel - Sarah Osborne

I really enjoyed this week’s hip hop panel event. In all honesty I was expecting the panel members to be more “thuggish.? I was so intrigued by the scholarly conversation that Alexs Pate and Melisa Reviere held, and their extensive knowledge on the hip hop movement. It is so interesting to hear about this form of “history? that is very current, and is directly effecting our country right here and now.

The first question I had that was discussed was in regards to Tricia Rose’s “Fear of a Black Planet? article. I was curious if Melisa or Alexs would think that banning rap and hip hop in certain spaces was a way that society was oppressing African Americans. Although they did not specifically address this regarding the oppression on black people, they did discuss the issue of fighting over public space with hip hop. Melisa said that all four elements of hip hop (rap, graffiti, breakdancing, and turntable) were all about challenging territory and personal space. Alexs added that rap is always local, and always “of a place and of those people.? I think this implies that by banning hip hop performances from certain venues is the same as taking away the ability for hip hop artists to expand their space. It’s taking away their opportunity to reach out to people, and is definitely a form of oppression.

Another question of mine came from reading Robert Walser’s article about how Chuck D’s lyrics were the center of controversy regarding hip hop culture. I was wondering if the panelists would put Public Enemy on the same level as artists such as Elvis and Dylan as far as being controversial, industry-changing artists. Alexs talked about how people had toyed with the concept of rap in the late 60’s by putting poetry to music, but then there was the “big bang? in the late 70’s that let the voices in the community be heard who were being “smothered? before. Melisa added that each element of rap is intended to be oppositional against things that the people feel are oppressive. To me, this is exactly like what Dylan did in the 60’s. Both Public Enemy and Dylan brought up some controversy by exposing problematic issues through their music, but as a result they both brought about a change in the music industry.

Amanda Kennedy- Hip-hop discussion

In the article “Foucault’s Turntable: Hip-Hop scholars Bumrush the Academy,? Hua Hsu reviews the work of Professor Todd Boyd. On of his remarks was that, “Hip-hop was easier to legitimize then [10 years ago in the 1990s] because it was ‘better’-more well rounded, more political, more purposefully angry? (Hsu 3).

This got me thinking, has hip-hop lost its meaning and if so, how would we define today’s version of hip-hop? But before I could answer that, I needed to know exactly what hip-hop is. Professor Pate and Professor Riviera were able to answer that. They said that hip-hop is a culture meant to be an opposition to the main stream culture. Hip-hop is the whole package: fashion, rap, graffiti, break dancing, publications, etc. Rap is particularly important because it acts as the literature of the culture.

Professor Pate talked specifically about rap and how a lot of the reason that hip-hop has lost some of its edge is because of all the “bad rap? that gets circulated into the main stream. Professor Riviera adds to this saying that modern rap and hip-hop is being re-sold to you as a way to tone down the rebellious aspect. By making hip-hop common, it lowers its influence; it is commercialism used to control the masses.

Both professors emphasized that hip-hop is still very much alive and powerful, but that you need to be looking in the right places. Professor Riviera emphasized the power of hip-hop on the global scene. She says that hip-hop is ever changing because changing politics will lead to changing forms of hip-hop. She says that repression leads to artistic expression, so hip-hop is all about what’s happening politically at the time.

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Rap and Hip-Hop Mikhail Karpich

What is the difference between hip-hop and rap? According to professor Pate, “rap is the literature of hip-hop and hip-hop is a cultural opposition to the dominant mainstream.? Therefore, rap is an element of hip-hop and hip-hop is a culture. According to Hun Hsu, “hip-hop was easier to legitimize then because it was “better?-more well rounded, more political, more purposefully angry? (Hsu 3). Professor Pate said that rap and hip-hop always represents something. He also went on to say that the views of the people in the communities that were smothered out took the form of hip-hop because otherwise it was impossible to bring out these views politically. Today, we do not hear a lot of rap that is purposefully angry and includes a political message. Most of the radio stations censor and play “gatekeeper? on the content the audience hears. According to professor Pate radio stations, such as 101.3 KDWB and B96, play bad music because the music they play goes along with the dominant culture mainstream. According to T. Martinez, “ultimately rap is the voice of urban African American youth, and that this voice is a form of resistance to and survival within the dominant social order? (Martinez 272). Radio stations such as KDWB and B96 do not convey this side of rap and hip-hop. These radio stations music does not reflect the hopelessness, the anger, and violence the people are living with.

Rap as Literature - Colleen May

This week’s discussion opened my eyes to a whole area of study I didn’t know existed. Although I didn’t use it in my questions for this week, I notice and was intrigued by the quote from Harmanci’s interview with David Cook, “you have an interesting phenomenon, where the ‘hip-hop experts,’ with university appointments attached to their name, have no credibility whatsoever in hip-hop circles.? I am glad this statement was addressed, as it made me wonder, “well then who do we think we are talking about this today??

I thought Alexs Pate from the Department of African and African American Studies provided a great response to that question. His analogy of this study of rap to studies of different literatures made it very clear why it isn’t important to him what people in hip-hop circles think of him. He sees it as important that someone study and validate hip-hop, and particularly rap, as an art form, a form of expression, literature. He is a critic like any other.

Throughout the discussion, Pate’s passion for “rap poetry? was evident and thought-provoking. Particularly, his identification of rap as “the first literary export of African Americans? provided an enlightened view of rap as an art form.

Uniqueness and Commericalization of Rap Music for Katie Kunik

It was interesting what Professor Pate said about how he doesn’t call the music rap, but rap poetry because the lyrics are poetic and what make the song important. He also said how many rap songs played on mainstream radio stations today are “bad?. I agree with this, and it is supported by another interesting point in the discussion how third party sales in the music industry are behind a lot of the music that is played on mainstream radio today. Most of this music lacks the passion and politics in their lyrics that is what made early rap so significant. When this is what many of the “teeny boppers? of today are listening to “in the club? as Professor Riviere explained, it creates a very superficial youth culture today, which was not seen during times of early hip hop or during the counterculture movement of the 1960s. This is ultimately leading to the demise of rap music since the big budget record labels do not support the underground hip-hop today.

The rhythm and the lyrics are what make a rap song, but each song needs to be unique in order to be something special. I thought Professor Pate’s theory of “I am? was interesting going along with this. Since blacks were enslaved in the antebellum era, they were not their own person because they were not allowed to be educated or do much besides work. This is why rap music is so unique. Each person wants to make a song their own by showing their personality through it, contrary to what the slaves were able to do. Pate’s TA mentioned that this “I am? theory of making one’s uniqueness stand out is important for marginalized people. So the sampling of music is simply taking something that is already there and making it their own. Whether or not the sampling is ethical or not because it is taking someone else’s rhythms is another issue. However, the uniqueness of rap music within the hip hop community is an important part of defining the African American culture and how they have conquered the stereotypes placed on them because of enslavement by whites.

April 22, 2008

Today's Hip-Hop in Review. Alex Schreiner