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Hip hop cultures focus of new minor program

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Kevin Brost | Arizona Daily Wildcat

Kevin Brost / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Alain-Philippe Durand, Director of the School of International Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (SILLC), speaks about one of UA’s newest minors, Africana Studies with a concentration in Hip-Hop cultures.

While some students may get their daily fill of rap music by listening to it during their walk across campus, a new hip-hop cultures minor is now being offered for those who don’t.

A new Africana Studies minor with a focus on hip-hop cultures was approved this summer and is now being offered to students. The program requires 18 units, with 15 units of core classes.

Such classes include Rap, Culture and God, Hip-Hop Cinema and U.S. and Francophone Hip-Hop Cultures. Students can choose from Pan-African Dance Aesthetics, Blacks in Hollywood or a few other choices for an elective.

Despite the focus on the particular music genre, the minor does not solely entail students listening to rap and learning dance moves in the classroom, said Alain-Philippe Durand, director of the School of International Languages, Literatures and Cultures and professor of Francophone Hip-Hop Cultures.

“I can just imagine if [students] were telling their parents they were going to take a course in hip-hop or minor in hip-hop,” Durand said. “Their parents would go like, ‘Whoa, what the hell is this? Hip-hop studies?’”

Durand explained that hip-hop touches on all the different aspects of society and who people are. Durand’s class specifically focuses on the origins of hip-hop culture and its development in the U.S. and the Francophone world.

Although some may not realize it, hip-hop courses adddresses a variety of disciplines, according to Durand.

“Some students think we’re going to be studying Lil Wayne and that’s going to be the extent of the study of hip-hop,” said Alexander Nava, an associate professor, teaching Rap, Culture and God. “It’s just the impression of hip-hop that steers some people away from actually minoring in it.”

Some students agree that not everyone has an accurate impression of hip-hop and its educational value.

“I think it’s really cool and we need more classes like that,” said Lizette Cota, a global studies junior. “But maybe some people don’t think it is education when it really is.”

Although some of the classes required for the minor have been available for some time, the new minor provides students with an option to concentrate on hip-hop studies. For those who have to choose a minor for their major, this could provide a fun and interesting choice, Durand said.

Some students agree that the minor is outside of the norm but will most likely provide an engaging learning experience.

“I think it’s really interesting,” said Sherin Bellas, a family studies and development junior. “I think it’s relevant and can be tied into a lot of different areas that we already study.”

Despite the fact that no one has signed up for the minor, some professors are optimistic about future interest.

“Africana Studies is really growing as a program, and we’re really excited about that growth,” Durand said. “We have seen a big increase in our number of majors and minors. We feel like with the hip-hop minor, it’s going to increase even more and even faster.”


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