Rhymes and Reasons: Hip Hop and Philosophy
01:730:256 (3 credits) Core: CCD
Professor Derrick Darby, Philosophy
Hip hop is great for partying but what can we learn if we study the rhymes?
Chuck D—pioneer from the hip hop group Public Enemy—once said that “rap is black America’s CNN.” In addition to gaining insight about the realities of life in America’s dark ghettos, studying rap rhymes can aid philosophical reflection and reasoning about identity, injustice, and inequality in these impoverished and racially segregated spaces. This course will feature lectures, interviews, music clips, and guest speakers including hip hop artists and prominent scholars. Our goal will be to contemplate philosophical questions raised by the existence of dark ghettos with the help of beats and rhymes. The course payoffs for students will be threefold: (1) sharpening critical reasoning skills, (2) sharing and acquiring knowledge of hip hop, and (3) gaining deeper insight about race, racism, and poverty in America.
United States Senator Bernie Sanders courted controversy when he said, “When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto.” Some people took offense but the truth is that ghettos are as American as baseball and apple pie. In New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, Florida, and elsewhere, they are home to a disproportionate number of black and poor people. Why do ghettos exist? What problems do ghetto dwellers face and how should society deal with them? What do we owe ghetto residents and what do they owe each other? What lessons do ghettos offer about our racial, gender, and sexual identities? We will read widely in the humanities and social sciences but hip hop and philosophy will take center stage to address these challenging questions.
Students from all schools and disciplines are welcome to sign up for this course. Rhymes and Reasons: Hip Hop and Philosophy can be used to meet the Core Curriculum goals Contemporary Challenges [CCD]