What’s it really like taking the ‘Ye’ class at Concordia?

A deep look behind the scenes at Concordia’s new course dedicated to Kanye West

It’s late March 2022 and while browsing through electives on MyConcordia, the last thing you expect to find is a whole class dedicated to one of hip hop’s most controversial figures, Kanye West. 

We’ve seen the Twitter frenzy and we’ve seen the Hypebeast article. Three weeks into the semester, you and around 200 other students are cramming into room 110 in the Hall building’s auditorium every Thursday to listen to what professor Yassin ‘Narcy’ Alsalman has in store.

“Honestly, anybody can come to the lectures.” said human relations student Alfred Umasao. “The professor doesn’t really care if you’re not in his class.”

If you’re curious about the nature of the course, look no further than the course outline to get a hint of what it’s like. The syllabus is presented in a PowerPoint format with artistic pictures and font, sequenced in typical Kanye creativity. 

“The purpose of this class is for you not only to appreciate Ye for his work, his vision and his addition to culture, but to also build a critical thinking of public domain, ownership, self-actualization, the world and more importantly, a realistic lens on celebrity, industry, media, community and power. Nobody’s Perfect. Why is Ye so influential?” reads the first page of the PowerPoint.

Umasao, who’s been to all classes so far, has nothing short of praise for the topics discussed so far. 

“It’s less of a Kanye-based class but more of an intrusive self-reflection where you’re on your own and have to think about who you are as a person. One of our assignments for example is ‘What made you disconnect as a five year old’ and like ‘How would you reconnect with him/her.’”

One of Alsalman’s ways of getting his students to feel comfortable in this environment is to play some chill Kanye beats before the lecture begins. Finance student Alissya Ghader describes the first day of class as entering a jam packed concert. 

“The teacher somehow managed to put us all at ease from the second we walked into the first class by blasting some Kanye beats until everyone got settled in which gave me the same feeling as entering the doors of a concert venue.”

Professor Alsalman interacts with his students in a way in which they can feel comfortable expressing themselves. Ghader says that the professor even opted for some Gen Z relatable humor. She also echoes Umasao’s previous comments about how immersive the class is. 

“He said that he’d like for us to not only see this as a “Kanye Class” but more like a venue for exploring contemporary issues especially within the rap industry and how Ye was able to make something out of himself by overcoming it all,” Ghader said.

One of the course’s assignments, called ”Kaneyetive Dissonance,” calls on students to examine a controversial moment in the rapper’s history and to explain critically why Kanye is or was problematic, whether the incident was racialized and whether or not the rapper was right or wrong.

The course has also faced some criticism for its apparent “meme” approach to the subject of Hip Hop and whether or not it should be taken seriously as a university program. 

That being said, the class does come with a hefty bill. Jenna Wilson, a Concordia student who works at the bookstore, says that the two books Alsalman’s students must buy for the course aren’t cheap and were at one point in back order. The course pack, written by Alsalman himself, costs $99.25. There’s also a smaller book called “Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” bringing the total to around $130 for the course.

Another student who preferred to remain anonymous told The Concordian that he still has mixed feelings for the course.

“I found it quite mixed, honestly… I’m not really sure of the whole point of the class. In some ways I feel like everybody there is just a Kanye fanboy/girl and that people don’t take it seriously.” 

Graphic by Joey Bruce

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