Posted: June 13th, 2022

Writing Assignment

 Please write a two-page (double-spaced) definition of hip hop, using 12-point font and MLA style. Your definition should draw on the previous four readings, assigned films as well as your own thoughts. I would like you to use at least four quotes from the course materials to support your definition. 

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  • Please keep in mind that I’m looking for an argument here, a point of view that is supported by evidence. I don’t need you to tell me EVERYTHING about hip hop. What I’d like to see is a “way in” to a larger discussion about hip hop or an aspect of hip hop.
  • Each of the writers and artists we’ve learned about  so far serve as examples of how to do this. Their work also serves as your source material for supporting any claims you make. In other words, please position yourself somewhere within the critical conversation about hip hop and use the readings/films we’ve looked at so far to support your argument. 
  • Just a reminder that artists are also historians and expert theoreticians of hip hop culture. 
  • This may seem like an easy assignment at first glance, but I’m looking for a solid perspective that is focused, well-argued and supported with evidence from our course materials. Public conversations (like the Google debate) can be super frustrating to watch, so this is an opportunity for you to begin to engage in the topic, using logic and evidence to support your claims.
  • It’s ok to use “I,” but please use it sparingly and try hard to keep your feelings out of it. This isn’t a paper about how you feel about hip hop. Your perspective will certainly drive topic choice, but I’d like you to rely on the scholars we are reading as much as possible. Dr. Rose and Dr. Gates, Jr., for example, are among the very best humanities scholars in the world. Why are they spending their time talking and writing about hip hop? And why do people often assume that classes that look at hip hop culture are somehow not as “serious” as other classes? You don’t have to answer these questions in particular, but I want your definitions to reflect a deep engagement with the material we are reading and watching.
  • Please refrain from using sources like Wikipedia, the dictionary’s definition of hip hop and general phrases like “hip hop is hard to define.” Again, if you’re stuck, I would suggest outlining (even making a chart) of how the readings (and films we’ve watched, other than this week) define hip hop.
  • You do not have to use this week’s readings for your definition. However, if you are inspired by this week’s materials, I’d encourage you to think about how particular artists (like Tupac Shakur and Kendrick Lamar) have taken up the legacy of the Black Power era in their lyrics and videos. If you do include this week’s material, it’s a good idea to think historically, meaning that I’d like you to be aware of the historical timeline (the Black Power era precedes hip hop culture). 

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