Skip to Main Content


10 Posts Back Home

Hip Hop: Art, Culture, and Politics

Professor Sarah Hentges University of Maine at Augusta College of Arts & Sciences Hip Hop is an umbrella term for art, music, dance, literature, identity, style and politics. We will begin to understand the art, culture, and politics of Hip Hop by looking at the movements and politics that inspired the birth of Hip Hop as a form of art and music. We will consider the art and aesthetics of Hip Hop and the musical styles that made Hip Hop music possible. Students will create a piece of art or music inspired by Hip Hop. The ways in which Hip Hop speaks to youth and speaks about oppression, violence, identity, culture, and power will also be considered. We will then explore Hip Hop as a form of cultural politics and activism toward social justice. Students will create art or music toward Hip Hop inspired social justice. Finally, we‘ll consider the…

Heroes and Villains: Is Hip-Hop a Cancer or a Cure? When we prostitute things like misogyny and violence for the sake of entertainment, we perpetuate villainous ideas as heroic. Hip hop is one of our generation’s perpetrators, but is also the art form that can turn this ship around. Lecrae is quickly developing into one of the biggest music stories of the year and his Cinderella rise has been noted everywhere from RollingStone, XXL Magazine, Vibe Magazine, The New York Times, The Atlantic, the cover of The Huffington Post to industry trades such as Billboard Magazine, Variety and Vulture. His performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, perfectly timed with his album’s release, had fans buzzing as he performed multiple hit records from Anomaly. He’s performed at the BET Experience, co­hosted The Dove Awards, co-­headlined the highest ticketed tour in the country (Winter Jam) and received a nomination for Best Impact Track at this year’s BET Hip Hop…

A Hip Hop Head’s Response to Wynton Marsalis

By Langston Collin Wilkins

Jazz musician, critic, and educator Wynton Marsalis recently sent shockwaves around the music world by making some inflammatory comments about hip hop music. In a conversation with Washington Post columnist Johnathan Capehart for the Cape Up podcast, Marsalis not only took hip hop music to task for its use of the words “nigga” and “bitch” and depictions of misogyny and violence, but ultimately suggested that hip hop music is “more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee” and said that fans of the genre should get their “heads examined.”

Songs for Survival: A 2018 Playlist

By William C. Anderson

A little over a year ago when I made the first Songs For Survival playlist I was trying to help people feel a little better. I thought music would help people through the times ahead, which is why I gave the playlist the name I did. At the time, I did not think I would be making another, and I made it pretty long so it would have longevity without growing repetitive too quickly. But after an enthusiastic response from many people, I decided to make another playlist for the New Year ahead.

In Search of Tupac: Expectations of All Eyez On Me

By Stephanie Shonekan, Art, Music, and Pop Culture Contributing Editor

Not since Ray has a biopic done justice to a beloved African American artist. As a genre, the musical biopic is challenging because it has to tell the story of an artist’s life and her/his art, keeping a careful balance between both. The biopic must stay true to the life and times of the individual against the backdrop of a historical and cultural context. More than that, a biopic has the burden of satisfying the voracious needs of a loyal fan base for whom this story means so much. Simply put, it must be told right.

Songs for Survival: A Playlist

By William C. Anderson

People have, at all times, been fighting against something heinous in the United States. Despite the ongoing injustice, oppression, and alienation that exists in this country, music is a saving grace for the nation. Dominating global markets, American pop, hip hop/rap, blues, and soul are known to people around the world. This music has its roots in Black America: music that often was and continues to be custom-made for survival. This sonic survivalism has been offered to everyone by the mere fact that its universal consumption has not been questioned much in the mainstream. Black music is for everybody (especially Black people). Like several other aspects of Black culture, the music is universally owned or claimed, although there are times when it becomes scapegoated for being responsible for a particular social ill; then it is solely Black people’s music. Still, it is consistently enjoyed by many through the ups and downs of the times.

Hip hop, grit, and academic success This impassioned talk explains how students who identify with Hip Hop culture have been ignored or deemed deficient in schools because of mainstream misconceptions associated with Hip Hop culture. Through Hip Hop, these students embody the characteristics of grit, social and emotional intelligence, and the act improvisation- all of which are proven to be predictors for academic success. So where is the break down between formalized education and the potential for success for these students? Dr. Love argues that ignoring students’ culture in the classroom is all but an oversight; it’s discrimination and injustice that plays out in our culture in very dangerous ways.

See More Perspective: Hip Hop and Social Justice SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE has done years of youth work through hip hop and spoken word dealing with social justice, identity, and community engagement issues, has performed at countless venues and festivals and spoken at and facilitated workshops at various social justice conferences and retreats. SEE MORE aims to inspire, uplift and open doors to possibility and imagination with an invitation to self discovery through meditations on community, history, and the expression of pure imagination. You can hear more of See More Perspective at his website or by following him on Facebook.

Hip-hop and Ferguson: Black Rage, Don’t Shoot, Be Free

By Stephanie Shonekan

In recent years, there has been a growing fear among some black music scholars, critics, practitioners, and partakers that its power as a significant expressive outlet for the community has been eroded. Commercialization, globalization, capitalism, media mania, and a voracious music industry have resulted in a trend that glorifies “booties,” “bling,” “beef,” and “Benjamins.”

From its roots in West Africa, art and music have always been an integral part of black life. Over time, wherever the Diaspora spread, the music remained functional, responding to the needs of the people to tell stories, recite histories, complement worship, aid work and labor, enhance celebration, and urge action against the evolving manifestations of oppression and racism.

African American artists like Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, James Brown, and Marvin Gaye created compelling beautiful music that commented on the experience of blackness in a tense racialized environment. From the late 1970s and into the 1990s hip hop artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Eric B and Rakim, NWA, Black Star, and Dead Prez continued the tradition.