And now we move forward…

Posted: January 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

So the class is now over and I am ready to teach people what I have learned. I am ready to tell people that there is more to the history of Hip-Hop than the death of Tupac and Biggie. Whenever I came into this class I thought that I knew all there was to know about Hip-Hop. However, I was very wrong. I thought I knew all about the history and past of Hip-Hop. I thought I knew exactly how Hip-Hop evolved. But I was very wrong. There were so many new things that I learned about Hip-Hop and now that I know them I can legitimately call myself a Hip-Hop enthusiast.

One thing that I did not know that was very surprising to me were all of the things that Shane did not know. It was strange, I thought that everyone knew who Biggie was and everyone knew a thing or two about Hip-Hop, but he really didn’t know much at all. For me and most of the students, that was very interesting and it was almost as if Shane was from a different country sometimes, but we learned from what he didn’t know and we learned how to teach him what we did know.

I also learned a lot from the individual presentations. I never knew anything about Slick Rick and I never really cared to do any research on him because I did not know how influential he was. Had I known that he inspired Snoop Dogg and Biggie, then I definitely would have given him the time of day in the past. But, you learn something new everyday and I am not complaining. I also learned a lot about the Beastie Boys, a Hip-Hop group that I thought I knew a lot about. Boy was I wrong. Not to mention everything I learned about Salt-n-Peppa. I really just learned something new everyday in this class and can’t wait to flex my Hip-Hop muscle at all my fellow Hip-Hop enthusiast friends.

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I think it is already understood that I will not talk about Friday without mentioning the sadness that has overwhelmed me, not only for our class being basically over, but also because we have come to the decision that we are not going to CiCi’s. The empty promise traced back all the way to our first class day when we went over the syllabus and discussed how we would end the class. I remember when I was in Race, Gender, and the Media this summer. We finished our class with one final discussion and debriefing day at the Waffle House, or as Dr. Wynn likes to call it, The Waffle Inn. Anyway, it wasn’t the meal that made that day, but rather the time we got to spend together as a class outside of the classroom. The discussions we had were very reaffirming and turned out to be the best possible way we could have brought the class to an end.

When we met at the Waffle House we told each other what we thought of each other and everyone mentioned 1-2 names of their peers that they admired and/or saw growth in throughout the short course. I think this would have been a very beneficial assignment for us to do in this class because we had a few students that were not big fans of Hip-Hop. For example, I would have loved to talk to Shane a little bit more and hear what he has to say about Hip-Hop and how he may feel about the culture now that he has learned a little bit about it.

Since our last day was technically Thursday I also feel like we did not get a good chance to say goodbye. I was kind of sad to see that when Dr. Wynn dismissed the class everyone just got up and left. I am used to giving the teacher a hug or saying thank you and have a good break, but everyone decided to get out of there so fast I did not know what to do. It was a sad day and I will truly miss our class.

Commercialism

Posted: January 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hip-Hop and commercialism appear to go hand in hand. In this class we spoke about how Hip-Hop influences purchases left and right and how even the cheapest and/or simplest of things can sell like crazy if Hip-Hop artists show that they use or support it. For example, we spoke about how white tee’s were sold at Macy’s I believe for $50 +. That, to me, is pretty ridiculous but it just goes to show how influential Hip-Hop artists can be on the market.

An interesting example of a company not being the biggest fan of Hip-Hop artists using or promoting their product was with Cristal and the Jay-Z dilemma. There was a long period of time where Hip-Hop artists like Jay-Z and Lil Wayne would rap about popping Cristal bottles or “only drinking the best.” And Cristal, stupidly, responded by releasing a statement that basically said that they do not condone Hip-Hop music and do not believe that those people are their true demographics. They refused to allow a bunch of Hip-Hop enthusiasts to become the face of their champagne. This was probably the dumbest marketing move they have ever done and I am willing to be my life’s savings that if we were to go back in time and they took the knowledge that they have now, they would not make that mistake again.

In one of our assigned articles, a drink enthusiast said that you’d be dumb to not want someone like Jay-Z backing up your product. He said that anyone in their right mind would love to have a Hip-Hop artist use or promote their product because they can reach a diverse audience that is more willing to buy than you ever could as a marketing director for your product and/or company. Maybe Cristal should send Jay-Z an apology because he can get them back on the map in a matter of seconds. Of course, that is assuming he is willing to give them the time of day now.

‘Pac and BIGGIE

Posted: January 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

On this day in class we discussed and watched a video on Tupac and Biggie’s murders. We watched a documentary made by a British filmmaker that asked all of the questions and sought out to find all of the answers behind the extremely controversial and surprisingly unsolved mysteries that are, the murders of Tupac and Biggie.

I learned a lot in this documentary that I did not know before and I also gained a new perspective on what I really think happened with the Biggie and Tupac murders. Ever since I first heard about their deaths I thought they were gang related. I never knew there was so much more to the story and I never really knew that a lot of people put the blame on Suge Knight. It was all really strange to hear in the interviews. Another thing I never really knew was that Biggie only had two albums, one of which came out AFTER his death. I had always put him and Tupac on the same level as far as talent and success goes.

Another very interesting thing that I learned from the documentary was that Biggie began his career opening up for Tupac. I never knew that Tupac could always hold that over Biggie. Also, I thought it was very interesting that Biggie never had a rough childhood or upbringing. I had always assumed that he had grown up in the ghetto and had always struggled to find food and shelter. However, I was really wrong. In the documentary Biggie’s mom explains that Biggie never had to worry about food being on the table or any of that nonsense associated with being a poor family in the ghetto. She explained that all of that talk in his rap music was all because he had an alter-ego that he had to become so people would respect his music. That was something I found to be very interesting and I wonder if many Biggie fans know that about him.

This day was exciting because we got to hear about a couple of artists that I truly admire and have always been a fan of, 50 Cent and A Tribe Called Quest. Again, I seemed to learn a lot of things about these two artists/groups that I did not know about them before the presentations.

I guess I will start with 50 Cent on this one. Of course we all knew that 50 was shot 9 times and we all knew that he was the epitome of a gangster rapper. However, I did not know that behind the bullet-proof vest and behind his macho attitude was a funny and easy-going guy. I had no idea that he had a sense of humor. All we see on TV or hear in his music is pure hatred and anger, so for me to assume that he was a funny guy seemed crazy before Nancy’s presentation. Another thing I did not know about 50 was that he was dating Chelsea Handler or that he and her were friends. Apparently they had some ongoing “flirty” joke going on back and forth that eventually blossomed into a relationship. 50 appears to be a cooler guy than I thought. There is nothing wrong with flaunting that sensitive side, Curtis.

Ahh, A Tribe Called Quest. Before we discuss this artist, I think it is obviously inevitable and imperative that I ask you one question. “Can I kick it?” This group is one of my favorite groups and hearing that we were going to discuss them brought enjoyment to me. Although we did not hear a lot about them that we didn’t already know, the fact that we got to sit down and talk about them with the whole class was cool and I also thought it was good that we discussed this in front of Shane because as far as I’m concerned, A Tribe Called Quest is a classic Hip-Hop group that people who are not engulfed in the Hip-Hop culture should know.

Individual Artist Presentations

Posted: January 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

This first day of presentations was really interesting. I learned a lot about many artists that I really did not know much about. My favorite presentations that I feel I learned the most about were Crys and Trey’s. Their presentations were over Talib Kweli and The Beastie Boys.

I’ll start by talking about The Beastie Boys first. I’ll admit that growing up I always heard about The Beastie Boys but I never really knew anything about them except for what might be their most popular song, “Fight For Your Right (To Party).” Besides that I did not know much. I knew they had a white member or maybe two, but I didn’t recall all three being white males. That, to me, was strange news that I did not expect. Although, it made me really happy to hear. I learned that they used a lot of humor in their music and that they seemed to be somewhat of an influence on modern day rappers like Eminem and Snoop Dogg, two of my favorite artists.

The second presentation I want to mention is Crys’s presentation on Talib Kweli. He is a very smart and awesome conscious rapper that I truly admired coming into this class. However, I did not know that he did not prefer to be labeled as a conscious rapper. I did not know that he wished to just be considered a rapper. Something else that was really interesting to learn about Talib Kweli was that his parents were both professors. This was pretty neat news considering up until this point in the class we had overwhelmingly come to the conclusion that you needed to be raised in rough environment or had to have been abandoned by a parent or two to be a successful and respectable Hip-Hop artist. This could not be further from the truth and we learned that after hearing a little bit about Talib Kweli.

Today we discussed a lot of things. However, the most intense conversations arose when we began to discuss the 10 statements that were made as debatable comments in 2000-2001 about Hip-Hop made by critics and by the artists themselves. Upon discussing these ten statements we found that nothing has really changed since the start of the millennium. All the things that the author said were issues in the past were still issues today.

A few of the statements really stood out to me because of how much we focused on them as a class. One that we just could not get Dionne to agree with us on was that Hip-Hop artists said “We are not role models” and the rest of the class and the critics all agree that they are, whether they like it or not. Our argument for why they are was simple, if you choose to be in the spotlight and you are living the luxurious life of a superstar you should be able to handle this extra title that comes with the role of international Hip-Hop artist. If you are putting yourself in the public eye you have already, without having to verbally state that you are, accepted the responsibility of a role model. Dionne’s argument was that if they don’t ask to be the role models or if they don’t say they are, then they should not be forced into holding such a highly regarded title. She said that they should be able to do what they want and not get in trouble for the sole reason that “they are someone’s role model and their behavior is damaging to others.” Dionne was saying that if they didn’t ask for that responsibility then they can’t get in trouble for that.

An example I wanted to share during class but didn’t get a chance to state was of Minute Bol. Minute Bol was the first player from Sudan to play in the NBA. But aside from being a great player, Bol was also a philanthropist that didn’t forget where he came from. He gave back to the country of Sudan all the time. Basically made himself go bankrupt from all of the donations he made to help improve their education system and economy. Anyway, the reason I bring him up is because one day when he was on one of his trips to Sudan he brought food, clothes, and a message to the people that hit a few harder than others. There were three men that were staying in the shelter where Bol made his speech and donations public who regarded Bol as their hero. When Bol came and spoke he said something along the lines of “Never give up and always chase after your dream because anything is possible and you, my people of Sudan, deserve a better life.” Now, Minute didn’t ask to be anyone’s role model and he didn’t know the influence he was having on all the people. But those three men took what he said and worked so hard for themselves so that they could one day move to America and live the American dream like Bol had done before them. I know all of this because recently I watched an NBA TV special on Minute Bol and the three men were interviewed later. The three men used the words “He was our role model” without Bol knowing. So the point I would like to be made from this verbose example is that whether you are aware of it or not, you, as Hip-Hop superstars, are role models for so many people, especially your fans. Be AWARE!