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Unit information: Hip-hop Music and Culture in 2015/16

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Unit name Hip-hop Music and Culture
Unit code MUSI30107
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Williams
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

In its over thirty years on record, hip-hop culture has risen to influence numerous global and local communities, from dominating album sales and downloads, to influencing fashion, advertising, cinema, urban space and everyday speech. This unit will embrace multi-disciplinary approaches to look at the four elements of hip-hop (breakdancing, graffiti, turntabilism/DJing and rap) and issues such as history, gender, race and geography. In addition, the unit will focus the musical analysis of rap, intertextuality, music video and rap music in non-Anglophone cultures (e.g. Germany, Japan, and Cuba).

This unit aims (1) to expand students' musicological knowledge into an important area of 20th- and 21st-century popular culture; and (2) to develop and apply understanding of the relevant contexts and methodologies for this study. The unit also develops skills in (3) extended written argument and in (4) oral presentation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students are expected to

(1) be familiar with the various subgenres of hip-hop music in the United States and the UK

(2) describe with confidence the primary features attributed to rap music and hip-hop culture, and their linkage with earlier forms of African-based and African-American based music making

(3) have a good knowledge of global hip-hop trends and movements outside the Anglophone world

(4) write critically and perceptively about questions of race, gender and intertextuality

(5) write critically and perceptively about theories and debates surrounding hip-hop music.

(6) be able to deliver a structured and critical argument in verbal presentation.

And additionally (specific to Level H) to:

(7) display to a high level skills in evaluating, synthesising and (where relevant) challenging scholarly thinking on this topic, including evidence of a high level of bibliographical control.

(8) engage with, and perhaps critique, the theoretical constructs that underpin different scholarly interpretations of music of this period

Teaching Information

Weekly 2 hour seminars for the whole cohort

Assessment Information

All the assessment is summative:

3,500 word essay (60%), ILO 1 - 5, 7, 8.

15 minute seminar presentation, and accompanying 1000 word handout (40%), ILO 1 - 3, 6 - 8.

The accompanying handout must include a bibliography for the presentation.

Reading and References

  • Forman, Murray and Mark Anthony Neal, eds.: That’s the Joint: The Hip-hop Studies Reader, 2nd edition (London: Routledge, 2012)
  • Krims, Adam: Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)
  • Mitchell, Tony, ed.: Global Noise: Rap and Hip-hop Outside the U.S.A. (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2002)
  • Rose, Tricia, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1994)
  • Williams, Justin: Musical Borrowing in Hip-hop (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013)
  • Williams, Justin (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Hip-hop (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).