Joycelyn Wilson, a professor at Georgia Tech University, Atlanta introduces an undergraduate course titled “Exploring the Lyrics of Outkast and Trap Music to Explore Politics of Social Justice.”
The course began on January 13, 2017 and is a humanities elective and a requirement for students with a Social Justice minor.
The curriculum is built around the study of the sound of trap music as it was introduced by DJ Toomp and popularized by producers like Shawty Red, Metro Boomin, Mike WiLL Made-It and Zaytoven.
Joycelyn brings a good twist to the word “Outkast” originating from her renowned TEdEx lecture “The Outkast Imagination” as she speaks with HipHopDX on her goals for starting up the course. “It’s not just about turning up in the classroom she firstly says, it’s a course that uses new metaphors for exploring contemporary rap music,” she explains. One of my metaphors is ‘The Outkast Imagination’ and the other metaphor is ‘trap.’ Both allow us to broaden and deepen our understandings of the music within a larger tradition of cultural expression.”
Hip-Hop with a capital H she emphasizes “is not about glorifying excessive materialism, misogyny, violence in the classroom, it’s not just about the use of rap music, she says but rather creating a nurturing environment that allows the student to tell their stories and develop their voice.”
She highlights the three salient points of Capital H Hip-Hop as promotion, engaging and learning through rapping, singing, DJing, Graffiti, break dancing, fashion and other activities associated with Hip-hop, another one being that it highlights the injustices of the world and communities, and finally providing a blueprint on alleviating many of the injustices.
As part of her Four Four Beat Project, Dr. Wilson’s syllabus for the trap music course consists of music, film, essays, photography, and lectures from guest speakers. Wilson further explained the course’s appeal to students:
“The class is popular because Hip Hop culture is popular, but also because we are in Atlanta and offering the course at an institute of technology committed to intersecting the humanities with technology,” Wilson explains.
Students enrolled in the course will research and analyze the metadata of soundscapes and social impact from artists including Goodie Mob, UGK, Eightball & MJG, T.I., Jeezy, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, Future, Migos and 21 Savage, as well as highlighting the intergenerational tensions and discourse about Lil Yachty’s artistry. The class will also touch on legendary artists like 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Kanye West, Nas, N.W.A, Public Enemy, Nicki Minaj, Lil Kim and Lauryn Hill.