Sunday, June 03, 2001

University course explores rap music culture


Bowling Green offers 'Hip-Hop 101' class

The Associated Press

        BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The subject is barely older than the students. It's Hip-Hop 101, and it's the newest class at Bowling Green State University.

        The class is more than a survey of rap. It delves into all areas of the hip-hop culture — the experimentation of DJs and samplers, the visual works of graffiti artists and the manic movement of break dancers.

        Even though there is no traditional textbook, there are plenty of articles and books to draw on, said Halifu Osumare, a dance professor who is teaching “Power Moves: Hip-Hop Culture.”

        Since hip hop first broke through with a mainstream hit 20 years ago, “Rapper's Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang, its influence has transcended pop music, seeping into all aspects of American life.

        It shouldn't be a surprise that hip hop is being taught at Bowling Green. The school is known for its Popular Culture Department that offers classes about movies and comic books.

        The course, which is being offered this summer, uses hip hop to explore a range of issues. Ms. Osumare wants her students to be able to critically analyze what they see and hear in hip hop.

        Some students at Bowling Green are thrilled that the course is being offering.

        “I grew up in the hip-hop culture,” said Gabriel Marquez, a student in Ethnic and Performance Studies. “I've waited a while to see it taught.”

        Ms. Osumare admits to her students, though, that she is a latecomer to music, but she has done her homework in clubs.

        “They know that I know my stuff, and I think they respect me,” she said.

        Ms. Osumare has studied the reach of hip hop around the world, noting that it has been adopted by young people in England, France, Russia and Japan.

        “It will really take root anywhere as long as they get cable television,” she said.

        She said there is a reason why some hip-hop artists push the boundaries of taste.

        “The record companies push them to do that because sex and violence always sell in American society,” Ms. Osumare said.

        “Rap is contemporary poetry.” It tells “really poignant stories even if couched in misogyny and gangsterism, poignant stories about what's going on in people's lives.”

       



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- University course explores rap music culture
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