Georgia professor integrates rapper Kendrick Lamar into classroom
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An English composition class at Georgia Regents University (GRU) is integrating rapper Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 hip-hop album into the curriculum as an effort to raise student awareness of important “social issues.”
Lamar’s 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d city tells an “account of abject conditions in Compton, Calif[ornia]”; something GRU Instructor Adam Diehl has built into his curriculum.
“The art form should not be excluded from academia because it gives visibility to current, underrepresented issues.”
“With Kendrick’s album, you’ve got gang violence, you’ve got child-family development in the inner city, you’ve got drug use and the war on drugs, you’ve got sex slavery, human trafficking – a lot of the things that are hot-button issues for today are just inherent in the world of Compton, California,” Diehl told USA Today.
Diehl argues that “the art form should not be excluded from academia because it gives visibility to current, underrepresented issues.”
“I think the main thing that hip-hop brings — it’s the more journalistic art form within pop culture,” said Diehl. “Whether it’s White Lines, which is about the cocaine epidemic in the ‘80s, or J.Cole’s new song on the Mike Brown situation, hip-hop is about immediate feedback to the world people observe around them.”
Diehl’s class juxtaposes the works of Lamar with those of James Joyce, James Baldwin and Gwendolyn Brooks and the 1991 film, Boyz n the Hood.
“What if people had said, we shouldn’t study Toni Morrison or Hemingway or Emily Dickinson because they’re too new,” said Diehl. “Everything was new or too popular or too risqué at the time, but I just think that great stories last and the story of good kid, m.A.A.d city, is lasting.”
Lamar’s songs feature lyrics from “ Nigga why you babysittin’ only [two] or [three] shots?,” to “ Sent her pictures of her titties blowing up my texts...I looked at ‘em and almost ran my front bumper into Corvette.”
Diehl’s student, Patrick Frits is a junior criminology and sociology major. He can now be heard listening to Lamar’s album outside the classroom. He believes it “isn’t just recreational — it’s scholastic.”
“We’re all from different backgrounds, we’re all from different demographics, but we’re all connecting together in the class over this,” said Frits.
Georgia Regents University is a public institution with an undergraduate enrollment of 6,700. GRU’s in-state tuition is currently $4,548 per year.
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