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Hip-hop state of mind

New course at SU teaches students about the cultural and social significance of hip-hop.

Where can the music of Lil' Wayne and Kanye West battle each other for audience applause?  Syracuse classrooms, thanks to a unique new class.

The sociology and fine arts departments in the School of Arts & Sciences at Syracuse University collaborated last year to create a new course, SOC/FIA 300 — History and the Social Significance of Hip-Hop Culture. The course was taught for the first time this semester. 

For a recent project, Professor Don Sawyer divided the class into nine crews, which were named after hip-hop artists. Each crew was assigned a specific theme and was expected to present a song from that artist.

The audience’s cheers would ultimately decide the winner of the “battle,” similar to the customs of an average, freestyle battle between rappers.

On March 3, there was a “battle” discussing the theme of politics among Team Lil’ Wayne, Team Kanye West, and Team Rakim/Big Daddy Kane.

Team Lil’ Wayne presented the song, “Georgia...Bush.” Team Kanye West showcased “Crack Music.” And Team Rakim/Big Daddy Kane went with “Casualties of War.” All three groups analyzed the lyrics from a sociological perspective, and Team Rakim/Big Daddy Kane ultimately prevailed over the competitors.

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