Hip Hop in Africa Class

Hip Hop and Popular Culture/Social Change in Africa at Howard University and George Washington University

Students Skyping with Algerian hip hop scholar Algerian hip hop activist Mohamed Amine Benloulou

In 2015 I created a course on Hip Hop in Africa at Howard University. The course has received strong enrollment numbers, averaging 30 students per semester. In 2018, the course was also offered at George Washington University. The course meets weekly and combines the classes on both campuses so that the students take the course together, alternating campuses each week.

This course examines the development of hip hop culture throughout Africa. The course also focuses on the role hip hop culture as a method of social commentary, with a special focus on hip hop’s commentary on democracy, corruption, social institutions, and gender. The course also examines the ways in which hip hop culture has engaged youth, social institutions, and the state. The course focuses on case studies of hip hop communities in order to show the diversities found across Africa. The case studies look at hip hop and social participation within individual hip hop communities in Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. The course includes an optional trip to the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival in Hartford, CT, as well as guest lectures by African artists based on the continent and in the Diaspora.

Students in the class have gotten the opportunity to meet either virtually or in person artists, activists, and scholars from around the world, like Baba Bomani (US), Babaluku (Uganda), Emile YX? (South Africa), Isatta Shariff (UK)), Mejah Mbuya of Wachata Crew (Tanzania), M3nsa (UK/Ghana), Modenine (UK/Nigeria), Roma Mkatoliki (Tanzania), Dr. Seth Markle (US), Toni Blackman (US), Wanlov the Kubolor (Ghana), Ya Minko (US/Gabon), Yugen Blakrok (South Africa).

Hip Hop in Africa Online

With the Center for African Studies at Howard University, I created the online course Hip Hop in Africa, which can be found on iTunesU and on Udemy. The course is designed to help educators learn about, and introduce students to contemporary African culture, using the lens of hip hop. Hip hop is a major cultural force throughout urban Africa, and the music is a great tool for understanding the social issues and cultural environments impacting African youth today. Through hip hop culture, African artists provide rich and diverse narratives of contemporary Africa. This course is designed to accommodate various levels of familiarity with Africa, and provides access to content at various levels of difficulty.