Spring 2021

Hip Hop History and Culture

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-134  |  Music, as MUSI-126


Amy M. Coddington (Section 01)


(Offered as MUSI 126 and BLST 134 [US]) This course examines the cultural origins of hip hop and how this small, minority, Bronx-based subculture expanded into one of the most influential styles of music in the world. This year, the course will focus more on the music’s political potential, analyzing how hip hop artists have wielded their music’s popularity to highlight systemic inequalities and enact social change. The course will begin by analyzing the cultural conditions out of which hip hop arose in the mid-1970s; from there it will turn to examining how hip hop music, over the last thirty-five years, has sounded out the identity of its creators as they have grappled with six major questions: What musical elements are crucial components of hip hop’s sound? What does realness in hip hop sound like, and why does it matter? How have artists negotiated expressing their specific geographic origins while simultaneously embracing globalization? How does this genre fit into the music industry, and how has the music industry affected hip hop? Should hip hop be political, and how should artists express their politics? How have technological developments altered hip hop’s sound? Through answering these questions, students will gain an understanding of how hip hop has developed into the styles that we hear today, and how hip hop has radically transformed American racial politics and popular culture more broadly.

Limited to 18 students. Professor Coddington. Hyflex format with as much face-to-face learning as possible; online elements of the course will occur via Slack, the course website, and Zoom.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to music majors


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022