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Hip Hop Across the Curriculum

Hip-Hop is not just a genre of music, nor is it simply a pop fad. It is a three decade-old and growing, holistic cultural movement. What began as the popular culmination of the African-American musico-social experience quickly spread to every corner and demographic of the United States and beyond. Today, Hip-Hop exists as a dominant expression of the modern American youth experience.

Accordingly, Hip-Hop can be used in a powerful and relevant way in classrooms across the academic curriculum. Not only does Hip-Hop engage students because of its inherent resonance with their lives, it can also serve as a case study to be applied from a multitude of angles. Read below for some general suggestions on how to connect your subject area to Hip-Hop.

English: Hip hop terminology and vocabulary as an example of how language evolves and serves cultural needs

History/ Social Studies: Hip hop as commentary on community violence, war on drugs, prison industrial complex, status of public education

Geography: Hip hop as a global movement, giving voice to disadvantaged and politically marginalized youth all over the world. Did you know the State Department appointed a U.S. Hip Hop Ambassador?

Economics: The commercialization of hip hop and glorification of the ‘bling-bling’ lifestyle.

Religion: Many early raps referenced the tenets of the black Muslim community. More recently, Christian rap has gained acceptance, as more rappers are using rhymes to spread the message.

Physical Education: Aspects of the Eastern martial art of Kung Fu and the Brazilian fighting dance, capoeira, have been adapted by breakdancers to impress competitors and onlookers during “battles.”

Art: Graffiti, the world’s oldest marketing tool, was introduced on the streets of New York. Soon graffiti art evolved from self-promotion to social activism, and gained credibility for beautifying drab city landscapes.

Courtesy of Tolerance.org