Hip-Hop

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The week after Thanksgiving we spent talking about one of the driving forces of American culture–hip hop.  I grew up surrounded by hip hop culture.  From the music and language to the styles and attitudes, hip hop has had a major influence on my life, so I was appreciative to have the opportunity to discuss it with you all.

Hip hop started in the Bronx in the late 70’s.  DJ Kool Herc is seen as one of the true pioneers in developing a new way of using a turntable to create a unique style of music which blended funk break beats with a rhythmic spoken word.  This laid the foundation for all of the hip hop music we hear today.

We got to hear a sample of some hip hop music, such as west coast gangsta rap from N.W.A. and also hip hop that has been influenced by Jazz music from A Tribe Called quest.  You can find all the songs with the lyrics in the link above.

However, hip hop culture isn’t only music.  It is a way of speaking, of carrying yourself, of art and dress and style and ideas.  This is what makes it so rich and interesting.  Perhaps my favorite topic is Ebonix, a language spoken by those in hip hop culture.  A lot of class was surprised by the variations on the English language they heard.  I always try to stress that Ebonix is not “bad English”.  In fact, there is no good or bad English.  There are only different ways of speaking it.  So, you have to keep an open mind when thinking about Ebonix.  You should also be wary of any teacher who tells you that there is such a thing as a right and wrong way to speak a language, for language is constantly in flux.

Check this video from 1994, one of the last years of the golden age of hip hop.  It’s from one of the nastiest MCs to ever grip the mic, Guru, from no where else but Crooklyn itself.

Listen to what another hip hop pioneer, Russel Simmons, has to say about hip hop.

For those of you who were there, and those also who weren’t, please contribute with your thoughts about…

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Thanksgiving

The week of thanksgiving we talked about 3 different aspects associate with the holiday: Football,  Black Friday and American Indians.  Not many of you were so interested in football.  I think you found the rules very confusing, and the game quite barbaric.  Mostly you couldn’t for the life of you understand why football is called football when a majority of the game is played with the hands.  I have no idea either!  However, football is such a major part of American culture and such a staple of Thanksgiving that I felt it warranted being discussed.