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Let?s talk hip hop

by admin November 3, 2009

Try to find a course related to hip hop in a university and you’ll quickly discover it’s barely represented. Who’s heard of a hip-hop scholar anyway? Most people haven’t even thought of looking at hip hop in an academic light since Tupac.
Until recently, hip-hop culture has been something studied only by those directly involved and affected. The “truth” behind hip hop has nearly dissipated in the mainstream image of the movement that we see today.
Concordia is doing its part in reacquainting students with this culture through the new course, Hip Hop &- Past, Present and Future, not to mention its continuous support of Students for the Advancement of HipHop Culture and the Annual Hip-Hop Symposium.
Nathalie Indongo kicked off this year’s presentations for the fifth annual Symposium last Friday with “Hip Hop No Pop.” Nathalie is most commonly known as “I am black girl’ of Montreal’s own Nomadic Massive, an informative and inspirational group of open-minded performers interested in bringing hip hop back to its roots.
Friday’s presentation was a look inside Indongo’s newest project. She is one half the innovative pair working to confront mainstream interpretations of hip hop while helping kids today get the information they need to become critical thinkers.
“Hip Hop No Pop” is the name of the workshops Nathalie conducts in classrooms across Canada. There are four mini-workshops in total. All in all, they share many of the same concerns as hip-hop super group, Nomadic Massive. “Hip Hop No Pop” aims to breakdown the mainstream media image of hip-hop and get back to where and how it all began. It is an informative, not preachy, contemporary teaching tool that seems to be extremely effective in re-appropriating common images within hip-hop culture.
The first workshop focuses on the non-violent origins of hip hop and acts mainly as a quick history lesson. The second workshop deals with women’s roles through deconstructing images of women from Aunt Jemima to Lil’ Kim. The third and fourth workshops get a little more hands on. Nathalie and her partner split the class up into two groups for role-playing exercises meant to demystify common stereotypes. One of the most interesting exercises involves a male student reading lyrics from Busta Rhyme’s “I love my Bitch” to his female classmate until either one of them feels uncomfortable; Indongo then opens up a class discussion.
Discussions of hip-hop culture on an academic level is starting to become common place at universities; they are after all relevant in today’s day and age of MTV. Montreal’s Annual Hip-Hop Symposium acts as a gateway to find out more about the culture as well as what those involved are doing to spread the word outside of the symposium. But judging by the poor turnout at Nathalie’s presentation, the word is only beginning to be spread.