Jazz and Hip Hop

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
July 08, 2019 - July 19, 20197/08 - 7/19M-F 12:15P-3:05POpenJessie Primer

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Course Description

Jazz and Hip-Hop. One emerges from New Orleans, the Big Easy, uniting European musical traditions, Ragtime and the Blues, the other is born out of the urban streets of New York City, rising from the struggles of social injustice, funk, new music and advancing technology – two seemingly separate genres, with inextricable roots. This course examines the origins, cultures, impacts, differences and similarities of Jazz and Hip-Hop music through a survey of their historical development, political significance and social influence.

Exploring the interplay of music as language and as entertainment, this unique course delves into African-American musical and oral traditions such as hymns and spirituals, utilized during American Slavery to communicate coded messages that helped facilitate freedom, juxtaposed with African-American musical success historically being confined by the insistence that it be expressed through religious music. While Jazz and Hip-Hop refuse that historical prerequisite, these two musical languages retain continuity with oral traditions and sustain the transmission of coded – and uncoded – messages of freedom.

From Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” in the 1930’s, James Brown’s “Say It Loud” and the Last Poets early influence on Hip-Hop in the 1960’s, to the emergence of artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Common and Chance the Rapper in the 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s - culturally relevant, politically oriented lyrics have been and continue to be a hallmark of African-American cultural and musical expression.

Students will engage with a variety of texts, articles and multi-media materials and will leave the class having developed an understanding of the ways in which Jazz and Hip-Hop have been shaped by the experiences of African-Americans and other oppressed groups in the U.S., the ways in which the U.S. (and cultures around the world) have in turn been influenced by Jazz & Hip Hop, being able to identify key similarities and differences between these two genres of music as well as the cultural, political, and artistic value of both musical forms.

Prerequisites: None.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEMU0912
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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