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Is Hip Hop a Global Learning Experience?

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Ashley Seelochan

on 5 January 2014

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Transcript of Is Hip Hop a Global Learning Experience?

What is Hip Hop?
Before one can analyze hip hop as a "global learning experience", it is necessary to understand what hip hop is and its importance in people's lives. Currently, hip hop is defined as a subculture that is made up of four elements:

1. Deejaying
2. Mcing,
3. Break dancing,
4. Graffiti

However, to many, this definition is quite blasé. Hip hop is believed to be a “constantly evolving spirit and consciousness of urban youth that keeps recreating itself in a never-ending cycle.” (Global Awareness Through Hip Hop Culture Program)Hip hop is a form of expression for mainly unprivileged youth to express their dreams for the future, and concerns about the present. (Alridge, and Stewart 190-195)

Technological advances, such as electronic sampling and drum machines, allowed musicians to further innovate the beats of jazz music. Sampling by hip-hop artists were prominent in old school hip-hop as the use of jazz “breakdowns” were the dance beats for their music. “The thing that keeps jazz alive, even if it is under the radar is that it is so free.” (Chinen AR25) This freedom is the basis of hip-hop as it allowed underprivileged youths to express their experiences in Diaspora. However, the shift came about due to the desire to express one’s own story using the foundation of jazz. The result of the fusion between these two music elements (rapping and jazz music) brought about the era of hip-hop. (Greenwald 259-271)

What is a Global Learning Experience?
A global learning experience is where people are exposed to new cultures or ideas which allow others to broaden their horizons and understand the roots of different cultures. The old school hip hop era ranged from approximately 1967, starting with DJ Kool Herc, to 1980. According to KRS-ONE, hip hop is a culture, an idea where their “people are united by certain universally accepted interests and ideas, and these specific interests and ideas are found all over the world at different times in the world.” (Parker)

Furthermore, a global learning experience should be one where there is positive learning that helps people to grow as individuals.

Hip Hop in the Present
In 2004, the United States was facing a major problem with high school drop out rates among African Americans, Hispanics, and low income students. Statistics show that with the national graduation rate at 50%, the average Caucasian eighth grader was smarter than a 12th grader from a low income family. A study by the Bill Gates Foundation found that the main reason for the drop-out rate was the lack of interesting classes, which created a lack of inspiration in the students to work harder. (Bridgeland, Dililio, and Karen)

Due to these circumstances, minorities turn to hip hop because they feel that the artists offer a non-sanitized version of African American viewpoints in comparison to lectures in an American classroom. This can be seen in Nas’s Untitled which explains the “true” meaning behind the “n-word”.

Can Hiphop be viewed as a "Global Learning Experience"
The Shift from Jazz to Hip Hop

What does Hip Hop Represent Today: Misogyny?
In today’s society, misogyny (the disrespecting of women) is a constant element in American hip-hop where the shift in culture is prominent among African Americans and Hispanics (Berry, 162-168)
In the article Love Hurts: Rap’s Black Eye, the author explains that the affluent artists are a major contributor to domestic violence in the household of young males. (Berry, 162-168)
Furthermore, people simulate the lyrical content of such rap songs. As these artists’ rise to fame personified the typical “American Dream”, impoverished fans of these artists viewed them as exemplars.
Hip Hop= Americanism Materialism
However, by trying to simulate the “lifestyle” of these artists, people began to condone and embrace these artists’ violent actions in both their private and public lives. In 2003, Motivational Educational Entertainment surveyed low income African American youths, which found the following:

Abuse was an increasing trend
2. Many men felt that abuse against women was justified

A survey of 62 students of Elon University concluded that while exposure to misogynistic content in hip-hop/rap music did not correlate with actual instances of abuse, it instead contributed to the negative perceptions of females (such as sexual aggression and hostility towards women). (Cundliff, 1-4)


What does Hip Hop Represent Today-Homophobia?
“It’s calling your manhood into question… it’s calling your sexuality into question … it’s saying that if you are not this you must therefore be gay, you must be a gay, you must be a f****t, you know, you must be a b**** n****.” –Jelani Cobb (Unknown)

From the quote above, it is apparent that the nature of hip hop and rap is heavily male oriented. By extension, homophobia is merely seen as a way of asserting one’s superiority in comparison to others. A vital component of hip hop is emphasizing one’s own masculinity while degrading someone else’s with the use of homophobic slurs. An example of homophobic content is Tyler, The Creator's song "Yonkers" (Goblin, 2011), in which he attacks B.O.B. merely because he dislikes his collaboration with Haley Willams on the song "Airplanes".




What does Hip Hop Represent Today-Homophobia?


However, despite homophobia being a constant in rap with the use of words such as "f****t", some rappers (Eminem and Tyler, The Creator) do not construe the word as an offense to lesbians, gays, and transgenders. Both of these rappers hold the belief that the negative connotations behind these words (as aforementioned) are inherent to the listener.

If everyone were to assimilate similar ideas and “go to” (Shoals) words like Tyler, The Creator and Eminem, the notions of homophobia would be further propagated in today’s society. Despite there being some acceptance of homophobia in hip hop, there needs to be a more drastic change because singling out the LGBT population represents a form of discrimination.


Acceptance of Homophobia
What does Hip Hop Represent Today: Misogyny?
The author of the article faults The Notorious B.I.G. for popularizing misogyny with his song "Me and My B" from the album "Ready to Die 1994'"
BY ASHLEY SEELOCHAN

STUDENT NUMBER 211435757

SUBMITTED TO: PROF. RON WESTRAY

JANUARY 6TH, 2014


But most insiders believe that a debate about profanity and misogyny obscures a much deeper problem: an artistic vacuum at major labels. "The music community has to get more creative," says Steve Rifkin, CEO of SRC Records. (Coates)

Hip hop used to be where listeners would learn about the difficulties and lifestyles of the underprivileged. For this very reason, old school hip hop qualified as a global learning experience. It was a positive learning experience where one could learn about the lives of other people. Furthermore, artists used to grow their creative ability through the use of past artists’ work.

Today, however, with the themes in hip hop being primarily about materialism, misogyny, and homophobia, it is difficult to see how listeners can achieve personal growth and learning by listening to such negative messages. This is being assimilated in people’s daily lives and, in turn, correlates to the negative perceptions that some of its listeners uphold. Thus, modern hip hop can be viewed as a detriment to a global learning experience.


Hip Hop not a Global Learning Experience
Bibliography
Alridge, Derrick P., and James B. Stewart. "Hip Hop in History: Past, Present, and Future." Association for the Study of African American Life and History. 90.3 (2005): 190-195. Web. 2 Jan. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/20063997>.

Berry, Elizabeth. "LOVE HURTS." VIBE Magazine. 2005: 162-168. Web. 30 Dec. 2013. http://www.thefreeradical.ca/Love_Hurts_VIBE.pdf>

Bridgeland, John M, John J. DiIulio,, and Karen Morison. "The Silent Epidemic." Perspectives of High School Dropouts. Bill Gates Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 Dec 2013. <https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/TheSilentEpidemic3-06FINAL.pdf>.

Chinen, Nate. "So Many Sounds, but Jazz Is the Core."New York Times 27 11 2013, U.S AR25. Web. 3 Jan. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/arts/music/herbie-hancock-is-the-emissary-of-an-art-form.html>.

Coates, Ta-Nehis. "Hip-hop's Down Beat." Time Magazine. 17 Aug 2007: n. page. Web. 4 Jan. 2014. 

Cundiff, Grethchen. "The Influence of Rap and Hip-Hop Music: An Analysis on Audience Perceptions of Misogynistic Lyrics." Student Pulse JournalQuest: Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications. 4.1 (2013): 1-4. Web. 2 Jan. 2014. <http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/792/the-influence-of-rap-and-hip-hop-music-an-analysis-on-audience-perceptions-of-misogynistic-lyrics>.

"GLOBAL AWARENESS THROUGH HIP HOP CULTURE PROGRAM." What Is It?. Global Awareness through HipHop Culture, n.d. Web. 30 Dec 2013. <http://globalawarenessthroughhiphopculture.com/>.




Greenwald, Jeff. "Hip-Hop Drumming: The Rhyme May Define, but the Groove Makes You Move."University of Illinois Press. 22.2 (2002): 259-271. Web. 2 Jan. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1519959>.

Parker, Lawrence. "Temple of Hip Hop." KRS-ONE. N.D.. Web. 30 Dec 2013. <http://www.krs-one.com/>.

Shoals, Bethlehem. "Break it Down: Homophobia in Hip-Hop [Excerpt From the July/August 2011 Issue]."XXL. 07 07 2011: n. page. Web. 2 Jan. 2014. <http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2011/07/break-it-down-homophobia-in-hip-hop-excerpt-from-the-july-august-2011-issue/>.

The Notorious B.I.G. “Me & My B*tch.” Youtube. June 27, 2009. Web. December 30, 2013.

The Student Hip Hop Organization. “What Does Hip Hop Mean to You.” Youtube. October 25, 2010. Web. December 30, 2013.

Tyler The Creator. “Yonkers.” Youtube. February 10, 2011. Web. December 30, 2013.


Unknown, . "The Issues." Independent Lens. PBS.ORG, 02 02 2007. Web. 2 Jan 2014. <http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/hiphop/gender.htm>.

Wenn. "A$AP Rocky addresses homophobia in hip-hop."MSN Entertainment. MSN, 26 Mar 2013. Web. 3 Jan 2014. <http://music.msn.com/music/article.aspx?news=798191>.
Bibliography


Hip hop today should not be seen as a force promoting globalization. Whereas hip hip's roots in exposing disparities of life within the American ghetto did allow people to broaden their experience, modern hip hop is divergent in its message. Modern hip hop has forgone its roots and the importance of its fostering grounds (chiefly neighborhoods in New York and California) in favor of glorifying materialism, drug use, and/or "gangsta life".

Moreover, this materialism has extended to degrading others (chiefly females and fellow rappers). Despite the content, modern hip hop has found popularization within the American mainstream. Suddenly, the message became subservient to the financial means that newer emcees were trying to achieve. Rap is not an expression: it is now a way to escalate social status and, in turn, become a personification of the American dream.



“My b**ch bad/she terrible/Beat a b**ch like Keta do” –Chief Keef
“Baby, What’s Wring With You” from Almighty So Mixtape (2013)



Although hip hop is chiefly homogeneous, some rappers are trying to break the negative stereotypes associated with the genre. A$AP Rocky and Kanye West have tried to battle homophobia in the genre. (Wenn) Additionally, they have tried to expand the genre by utilizing beats from EDM (Skrillex, Daft Punk) and rock producers (Rick Rubin).

However, a positive development in mainstream hip hop is the release and popularity of Mackelmore, Mary Lambert, and Ryan Lewis's "Same Love". The tune not only questions homophobia not only in hip hop, but in society as well. Additionally, some rappers (while not dominating the mainstream) have tried to bring forth experiences from other parts of the world in order to broaden the narrow American focus in hip hop and rap.




"You talk slick, I beat you right”.

OVERVIEW
In the early stage of hip hop, rap was used by the underprivileged to express their feelings about their surroundings and lifestyles. The content of their expression allowed others to learn about different lifestyles and struggles that others faced in different parts of the world.

However, today, hip hop is popularized for the following:
1) Misogyny
2) Homophobic slurs
3) Materialism

With the focus of modern hip hop being on the aforementioned themes, hip hop cannot be viewed as a global learning experience. Since the learning experience is insignificant, it does not positively contribute to people’s growth as individuals. Secondly, while American hip hop is popularized, viewpoints of underprivileged people in other countries are not publicized equally. Therefore, it can be considered only an “American experience”.


“Brothers and sisters, this is why/we hung up in our consciousness/we been talking wrong”- Y’all My N***as (Untitled 2008)

Although hip hop is chiefly homogeneous, some rappers are trying to break the negative stereotypes associated with the genre. A$AP Rocky and Kanye West have tried to battle homophobia in the genre (Wenn). Additionally, they have tried to expand the genre by utilizing beats from EDM (Skrillex, Daft Punk) and rock producers (Rick Rubin).



However, a positive development in mainstream hip hop is the release and popularity of Mackelmore, Mary Lambert, and Ryan Lewis's "Same Love". The tune not only questions homophobia in hip hop, but in society as well. Additionally, some rappers (while not dominating the mainstream) , such as M.I.A., have tried to bring forth experiences from other parts of the world in order to broaden the narrow American focus in hip hop and rap.
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