Hip-Hop is 50

Duval “Masta Ace”’88

Our thanks go to legendary rapper and URI alumnus Duval ‘Masta Ace’ Clear ’88, who is featured in our award-winning series “Why Hip-Hop Matters”

Photo credit: Zoe Goldstein

Hip-hop hit a half century this year and has earned its place in history, says Emmett Goods, assistant professor of music and an expert in music as a form of social protest.

“Hip-hop in its 50th is just beginning to command America’s respect as a genre because, when we think about it, with any youth music we never think it’s going to last,” Goods says. “And yet now we see hip-hop is 50 years old and has more subgenres than you can count and a legacy all its own.

“And it can stand on that legacy.”

In 2019, we profiled members of the URI community whose work demonstrated a deep commitment to hip-hop culture—alumni, students, and professors who have embraced the art form, incorporating hip-hop into discussions about music, art, design, literature, history, philosophy, politics, rhetoric, gender, sexuality, women’s studies, diversity, and inclusion.

Hip-hop is radical, a challenge in form and content, says Associate Professor of Philosophy James Haile III. Haile has written extensively on Black art and on Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar. Haile talks about the title track of good kid, m.A.A.d city: “Sing about me.” He notes that Lamar alters his voice to tell others’ stories in their voices, creating a conversation in which he channels all parts.

“Kendrick Lamar is switching pronouns in a single sentence! Shifting perspective,” Haile says. “Rather than speaking for those who do not have a voice, Lamar blends their voice as his own without subsuming their voice,” Haile writes in “good kid, m.A.A.d city: Kendrick Lamar’s Auto-ethnographic Method.” “When one is listening and hears Lamar, one is also hearing all the other voices that are not his.”

In honor of hip-hop’s impact and legacy, we invite you to revisit our series “Why Hip Hop Matters,” which won a 2019 CASE Gold Award from the Council for  Advancement and Support of Education.
 

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