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Cultural History of Rap

Cheryl Keyes
University of California, Los Angeles
Hiphop
Before 2005

This course will explore the roots of rap from its African bardic tradition to African American expressive/oral traditions; examine the development of rap as a musical genre; analyze the musical, verbal, and paralingual-musical aspects of rap music as exemplary of an urban street/hip hop aesthetic; discuss its influence on musical technology (i.e., sampling) and cultural influences in the mainstream; investigate the philosophical, political ideologies, and concepts of authenticity; review controversies surrounding rap music (i.e., censorship, copyright infringement, homophobia, misogyny, gangsta rap); review hip-hop culture on the silver screen; and examine the global impact of rap music/hip-hop culture. To further enhance one’s comprehension of rap, musical examples and video documentaries are appropriately used to coincide with class lectures and discussion, and hip-hop industry personnel, where possible, may be invited to the class as well. Although this course does not advocate a particular stance on rap music per se, its main objective is to foster an in-depth understanding of this musical genre and, more importantly, to locate rap as a part of a continuum of American popular music.



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