Hip Hop as History

My high school is incorporating a new African-American history course for seniors and we began a conversation on what to include.  I could not help but put in my love of Hip Hop and comics.  What do you think?  Any additions?  Please feel free to add in the comments section.


Just some thoughts moving forward – as a Hip Hop fan – I wonder if there will be some music history thrown in to the course.  As a white man (spoiler alert!), I do not believe that an genre of music belongs to any one color/culture – but Hip Hop (and comic books) are true American inventions – and there is certainly a lot of history here as young black men and women strove to find a voice through music (remember when Hip Hop and rap was all political and not all about the size of car rims?  Sigh).  I remember Ishmael Bae talking, and writing (A Long Way Gone) , about his struggles as a child soldier in Africa – and he listened to the same music as I did at his age – he saw himself in Public Enemy and had hope.  Anyway – just throwing this out there – I’d be happy to help with any of this when the course is running or to do research for you if you are interested. 

I could see taking apart a song like this one from Nas – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvVfgvHucRY  — especially the second half.

Or KRS One – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blzJETBmlt0

Or – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHdvnJ6w96I

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKBoAjxzXkE (Acknowledge Your Own History)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tie+my+hands+lil+wayne – Tie my hands – references Katrina

http://www.songlyrics.com/big-k-r-i-t/praying-man-lyrics/ – praying man w/BB King



I have used two Public Enemy songs to teach annotations, textual analysis, and history – it is used alongside an awesome graphic novel about Nat Turner by Kyle Baker that gets into whether he was a hero or murderer.  My lesson plan is here – (it has links to the songs) https://historycomics.edublogs.org/2014/11/10/nat-turner-slavery-and-imperialism-through-comics-and-hip-hop/  – it is one of my all-time favorite lessons.  I want to have my kids tweet with Chuck D and Kyle Baker – working on it!


Then there is this awesome comic that traces the history of Hip Hop – includes plenty of white artists as well – but the language is a bit questionable for the classroom




I am also working on a database of comics that I have on Black History – I continue to update it – I have many of these displayed in my room for extra credit.  http://historycomics.wikispaces.com/African-American


If you are on Twitter, #hiphoped is an awesome hashtag to talk to other educators with similar interests.


ANYWAY – thanks for reading my random thoughts here – just trying to help.