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Department of Music

Global Hip-Hop

Course Code:
155800084
Unit value:
0.5
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2

The course is designed to introduce students to critical scholarly approaches to hip-hop; it is meant to be taken as a free-standing unit, but it will pair well with Cuban music, Atlantic Africa, or any of the Pop & Politics classes in the department. Its focus on musical analysis will be limited so as to be accessible to students from other disciplines, but students are welcome to engage musical analysis in their written work.  Our primary approach will be theoretical, with heavy emphasis on geopolitics and globalization, and thus it would be an appropriate class for students in anthropology and politics.

  • Outline of lectures: New York City in the 1970s: Jamaican, Brazilian and American roots of hip-hop;
  •  Development of hip-hop and the culture wars in the 1980s in New York;
  •  African and Arabic rap in France in the 1980s and 1990s;
  •  Hip-hop in the “Middle East” from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Arab Spring;
  •  Three Approaches to global hip-hop in Ethiopian-Israeli rap;
  •  Griots, folk-poets and rap’s African roots;
  •  Kwaito in post-apartheid South Africa;
  •  Caribbean offshoots: Hip hop Kreyol and Reggaeton;
  •  Bombay Bronx and London’s South Asian hip-hop scene;
  •  Graffiti in Brasilia and Brazilian female MCs.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, a student should be able to analyse the social and historical roots of hip-hop, as well as the major debates over its practice around the world.  Through readings and lectures that engage with theories of migration, race and gender, students will learn to think critically about the connections between urban degradation and street culture.  Through secondary focus on the effects of technological innovation on musical style, students will learn to read critically about global aesthetic practices consumed over the internet.

Method of assessment

2,000 word Essay (worth 50%), 2,500 word essay (worth 50%)