Georgetown University students will have the chance to delve into the world and backstory of rap mogul Jay-Z as a new course, “Sociology of Hip Hop: Jay-Z” is now being offered by renowned author/television personality Michael Eric Dyson.
Dyson’s course will reportedly analyze Hov’s career and specifically cover certain parts of his 2010 memoir, Decoded.
The course, “Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z,” may seem an unlikely offering at a Jesuit, majority-white school that counts former President Bill Clinton among its alumni. But Dyson insists that his class confronts topics present in any sociology course: racial and gender identity, sexuality, capitalism and economic inequality. “It just happens to have an interesting object of engagement in Jay-Z – and what better way to meet people where they are?” Dyson said. “It’s like Jesus talking to the woman at the well. You ask for a drink of water, then you get into some theological discussions. … I think he’s an icon of American excellence.” (CBS News)
The Hov-focused program has also received co-signs from industry personalities.
On Friday’s NBC Today, MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin gushed over a new class at Georgetown University taught by liberal professor Michael Eric Dyson: “Race, class, gender, culture, all things that would be covered in most sociology classes and they’re covered in Michael Eric Dyson’s as well, but the issues are examined in a way that uniquely appeals to college students.” Melvin touted how, “Jay-Z’s street rhymes that became stage anthems are being taught at one of America’s top schools.” He promoted the course as serious education: “In the Georgetown University syllabus, it’s called, ‘The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Odyssey of Jay-Z.’ For about 140 students twice a week it’s 90 minutes of head bouncing and dissecting….Dyson uses Jay-Z’s 2010 memoir ‘Decoded’ to break down lyrics, but maintains a traditional classroom, using articles, guest speakers, essays and exams.” (Newsbusters)
Although perceived popular in most cases, some students have voiced their issues with Dyson’s course.
While the chairman of Georgetown’s sociology department defends the class, outraged students like junior Stephen Wu have called it “poppycock” and said serious scholars should be delving into Homer not Shawn Carter (Jay-Z’s real name). “The great bard inclines toward the divine; he brings to light much of the character of human nature and puts man in communion with higher things,” Wu sniffed in the Georgetown campus newspaper, The Hoya. “Rap music frolics in the gutter, resplendent in vulgarity and the most crass of man’s wants.” (New York Daily News)
This is not the first time a music icon like Jay-Z has been the center of attention for a class, as past courses have focused on late legends including Tupac Shakur and Marvin Gaye.
Classes centered on pop culture superstars like Bruce Springsteen have sprouted on college campuses in recent years; Dyson himself says he’s previously taught classes on Tupac Shakur and Marvin Gaye at theUniversity of Pennsylvania. He says Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, is a worthy subject because of his diversity of business interests — a clothing entrepreneur, he’s also a part owner of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets (soon to move to his native New Yorkborough of Brooklyn) — as well as his immense cross-cultural appeal and “lyrical prowess” in articulating contemporary black culture and his place in it. (USA Today)
Check out coverage of the new Jay-Z course below: