Hip-hop in academia  

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"There's something strange going on with gangsta rap and its homophobic and misogynist lyrics. It seems to be sympathetic to violence ("Fuck tha Police", "Cop Killer") and at the same time people complain about the "black problem", black youth, and the number of incarcerated black young people that is disproportionately high. Yet the record industry makes millions off of it and many black hip hop artists are worldwide role models." --Sholem Stein

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Hip hop studies is a multidisciplinary field of study that encompasses sociology, anthropology, communication and rhetoric studies, religious studies, cultural studies, critical race theory, missiological studies, art history, dance, musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, and gender studies. The term "hip hop studies" began circulating in the mid-2000s, and though it is not clear who first coined the term to label the field, the field of hip hop studies is oft cited as having been crystallized by the publication of That's the Joint!: The Hip Hop Studies Reader in 2003. That's the Joint! includes approximately 25 years of scholarship, criticism, and journalism. The publication of this anthology was unprecedented, and highlights the evolving and continuous influence of "one of the most creative and contested elements of global popular culture since its advent in the late 1970s." The publication of the first edition of That's the Joint! marked a consolidating moment for the field of hip hop studies because it brought together key writings on hip hop from a diversity of hip hop authorities.

Hip hop culture, rooted in the 1970s post-industrial South Bronx, is polyvocal and is represented in five cultural modes: rap music (oral), turntablism or "DJing" (aural), breaking (physical), graffiti art (visual), and knowledge (mental). Hip hop has, and continues to produce a remarkable array thinkers who embody complex ideological makeups exemplified through their performances as writers, artists, poets, and scholars. In Hip Hop Matters (2005), professor and media scholar S. Craig Watkins labels the increasing interdisciplinary cohort of hip hop academics and scholars as the "hip-hop intelligentsia," and suggests that while this group of individuals may not often been discussed as an entity in and of itself, their existence is, without question, one of the greatest achievements of the hip hop movement. Watkins writes:
"The growing array of hip-hop intellectuals is a spectacular indication of the movement's multifaceted demeanor and ceaseless energy...What has emerged is a body of thinkers who articulate a wide range of ideas that, in their unique way, map out the contradictory currents, ideas, and worldview that percolate throughout the phenomenal world of hip hop. From spoken-word artists to academic scholars hip-hop intellectuals are translating the movement into a vast mix of critical commentary and artistic expression. The results both energize and expand the image and imagination of the hip-hop intelligentsia."

Hip hop studies is part of the larger hip hop movement. The research and teaching in this interdisciplinary field includes analyses of technology, pop culture, linguistics, globalization, geography, race, electoral politics, and a variety of aspects related to contemporary culture, as scholars attempt to critically assess hip hop as a movement.

Methodologies

Hip hop studies' methodologies, or methods of systematic inquiry and analysis, are drawn from a range of academic disciplines including anthropology, sociology, political science, history, linguistics, economics, performance studies, media and communicative studies, American studies, musicology, English and literature, women's and gender studies, and black studies. Greg Dimitriadis, formerly a professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Buffalo, was an academic who critically examined, amongst other topics, hip hop methodologies; writing "Questions of method are, at heart, questions about how one can best understand the world." In hip hop studies, this "world" encompasses the complexities of political, social, and economic exploitation of marginalized peoples, and hip hop practitioners' resultant forms of resistant expression,<ref name=Rose1994 /> thus the frames of analysis used by scholars are equally complex and consider factors such as race, class, gender, gender identity, sexuality, location, and performance and performativity. The use of ethnography is popular and preferred in hip hop studies because it is a mode of inquiry that enables a scholar to include a multiplicity of voices, and showcases the experiential knowledges of hip hop doers and consumers; ideally this method highlights the dual authority of practitioners' and academics' knowledges.

Foundational texts

Hip Hop studies has been growing as an academic discipline since the mid-1990s; two decades after its genesis. By the millennium and in the early 2000s, scholars such as Tricia Rose, Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West, Anthony B. Pinn, Jeff Chang, Nelson George, Bakari Kitwana, Mark Anthony Neal, and Murray Forman, began engage Hip Hop's history, messages of resistance, social cognizance, personal awareness, political activism, pleasure and power, and community engagement in scholarly works that gave Hip Hop academic legitimacy. Works by these authors are considered foundational texts in the field of Hip Hop studies because their research and publication served to legitimate Hip Hop as serious academic endeavor and since 2002 scholarly inquiry centralizing Hip Hop culture has multiple exponentially; exemplified by the inception of the Hip Hop Archive & Research Institute at Harvard in 2002, and the publication of the second edition of That's the Joint!: The Hip Hop Studies Reader in 2011.

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