Educators Concerned About Jay-Z Course at Georgetown University
A class about Jay-Z is raising some concerns by educators who feel that the rap mogul may not be culturally relevant for academia. The course, ‘Sociology of Hip Hop: Jay-Z,’ is being taught at the prestigious Georgetown University by hip-hop scholar/author Michael Eric Dyson. The curriculum explores the New York rapper’s “lyrical prowess” and how it correlates with American society.
Dyson, who has lectured previous courses on Marvin Gaye and Tupac Shakur at the University of Pennsylvania, believes Jay-Z is the perfect subject to discuss in a collegiate forum. “I think he’s an icon of American excellence,” he tells the Huffington Post.
But there are some who are worried about a course being taught soley on Jay-Z. Activist and author Kevin Powell hopes the class expands into discussions about Jay-Z’s misogynistic lyrics and the abundance of materialism in his songs. Meanwhile, sociology professor Kris Marsh praises Dyson for introducing Hov into the classroom, but is leery about using him as the lone subject to teach about black America. “We’re not sure if it’s fiction or real life,” she says of Jay-Z’s rhymes. “It can be almost indistinguishable sometimes in hip-hop.”
In an editorial in the school’s newspaper, Hoya student Stephen Wu thinks it’s “poppycock” that a course on the rap mogul is being taught at the Jesuit school. He feels there are better subjects for discussion in a literary setting. “It speaks volumes that we engage in the beat of [Jay-Z's] pseudo-music while we scrounge to find serious academic offerings on Beethoven and Liszt,” he writes. “We dissect the lyrics of “Big Pimpin’,” but we don’t read Spenser or Sophocles closely.”
Fellow student Danielle Bailey, who is taking the class, believes a fresh academic look on artists such as Jay-Z helps students learn about the world through a different perspective. “I know a lot of people are upset, but I think the point of college is to think outside the box,” she tells HuffPo. “I rarely have classes that allow me to look at things differently. It’s not always about Mozart and Homer.”
Dyson says Jay-Z supports the course and reportedly gave a shout-out to the class at a concert on his ‘Watch the Throne’ tour. “You’re doing the class there,” Dyson recalls Jay saying about the course. “I’m doing kind of the master class while I’m in concert.”
Watch Michael Eric Dyson and Other Professors Discuss the Georgetown University Course