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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?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFas9cd8ZZ8 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.”

Queer and Trans Youth and the Transformative Power of the Arts

By Sojn Boothroyd

“Making art is the place I felt most connected to myself and to the mystery of creation. I felt powerful, like a superhero—like no one could touch me or hurt me in any way.”—Jayden

Jayden was a participant in Queer Teen Identity Formation and the Arts, a qualitative research study I conducted as a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2009. Eight individuals living in different geographical locations who engaged in the arts as teens and identified as trans, queer, pansexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning participated in the study. During the interviews, they talked about their experience identifying as queer and trans teens, what that entailed, and how engaging in the arts affected their lives at that time. The participants responded in writing to an email questionnaire and chose pseudonyms, used here, to keep their names confidential for the study.

Introduction to LGBTQ Studies

This course will provide an introduction into Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Studies. Considering LBGTQ Studies as an interdisciplinary field using humanities text-based critical analysis, this course will focus on how the central concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity work within history, politics, literature, technology, art, music, philosophy, and literature. Throughout this course, students will work towards a deep understanding of the intersectional dynamics of privilege and oppression as they relate to LGBTQ individuals and culture by exploring the lived experiences of LGBTQ individuals and their partners/families. Critically read, discuss, analyze, and write about the assigned readings and central course themes. A key part of this process will be the application of course concepts to current cultural conversations and, potentially, students’ lived experiences. Build both a specific and general knowledge of the history and current dialogues regarding LGBTQ issues across multiple disciplines and across multiple forms of…

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.

Lemonade: Our Album of the Year

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

This year’s Grammy Awards show was one of the best I have seen in the last few years. Almost every performance was spectacular–Bruno Mars as himself and then as Prince; Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, and their fiercely political statement; Adele and her beautifully vulnerable moment when she bravely revised her tribute to George Michael on live TV; Chance the Rapper and Kirk Franklin merging hip hop and gospel like never before; and then, of course, Beyoncé’s highly anticipated appearance satisfied our collective curiosity about her ability to perform while pregnant. She killed it.

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.

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