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UA hip-hop minor should be embraced and applauded for cultural relevancy



When Steven Colbert starts tweeting about a new minor at the UA, you know it’s a big deal.

On Jan. 8 Colbert tweeted “The University of Arizona is offering a Minor in Hip-Hop. And if you go on to grad school, you can get your Doctorate in Dre.”

Despite jokes from the host of the Colbert Report, the UA’s new minor in hip-hop culture just goes to show how a music genre has risen to such relevance and managed to integrate itself into society.

Students may assume that the classes will revolve around mostly listening to Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz. However, hip-hop is much more than a music genre, it is a way of life so deeply entrenched with today’s youth that it allows important insight into American and international culture.

Phenomena that become this grandiose in terms of their societal influences warrant scholastic inquiry in order to understand modern society, and how to put it into perspective.

Even Cornell, a University noted for being at the forefront of serious hip-hop study, has recognized the UA for being at the forefront of scholastic hip-hop, according to the LA Times.

“I think it’s a very positive development to see hip-hop enter the academy, even if it’s a decade or even a generation late,” said associate professor and chairman of Cornell University’s music department Steven Pond to the LA Times.

In a day and age where everyone with a Macbook considers themselves a DJ, people of all backgrounds are heavily influenced by hip-hop culture and the UA should be applauded for embracing it.

Students now have the ability to learn about lyrics, culture, societal and economic impact, from the big-name artists down to little details, like hairstyles.

In a book by former record executive Steve Stoute, titled “The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy,” Stoute says, “There is nothing wrong with playing into a trend. But a word of warning to marketers: if you don’t have control and you’re not at the forefront of seeing the trend, you’re in the back getting killed.”

Because of the history of hip-hop and the underlying negative connotation, teaching on the subject may be heavily criticized at first. However, hip-hop’s cultural implications are no different than the Beatles’ were in the ‘60s.

From the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Africana Studies adjunct lecturer Tani Sanchez said, “This is all material culture … and from that perspective, it’s just as legitimate to study hip-hop as it is to study Baroque art or quilting. Material culture always tells you something about the people who made it. It’s always part of the fabric of humanity.”

The UA breaking down barriers and incorporating hip-hop into its curriculum is a testament to the school’s desire to be trendsetters. We are paving the way for a new age of learning as we modernize and keep content current.

Hip-hop influences are reflected in the clothes of students on campus. In its step outside of the box, the UA has blazed a path that will inevitably be followed by many more to come.

— Justin Hussong is a journalism senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @hussington.


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