As some may know, UGK‘s Bun B was recently tapped by Rice University to teach a class on Hip Hop & Religion. Earlier this year, superproducer 9th Wonder was hired to teach History at Duke University. & just this week, Houston rap dude Z-Ro was lined up for a gig at Houston Community College to speak on Hip Hop history. [Sidenote: Notice no english, science, or math courses. Not a judgment, though, just an observation.]
I think it’s awesome that these establishments are giving such an outlet to rappers. Really though, I know, first hand, the frustrations of staying inside the proverbial rap lines when being creative. Believe that even the illest rapper would have a hard time making a tolerable song about friendly dragons or teaching his/her daughter to read analog time. Even if the illest producer, ever, put the track together. Honestly, half of these so-called rappers are just in this for the payload, like nymphomaniac millionaires with prostitute fetishes. But, the other half I believe to be creative spirits, bound only by the audience. & since the audience pays the “bills,” I can understand how overground appeal is the new underground angst. Nonetheless, standing in front of a crowd is all the same experience. [Sidenote: Yes, I've done shows before.] It’s the content that changes. & maybe the delivery, depending. (If you smell my cologne…)
All that said, I’m not too sure I’d want to spend more than one session listening to rappers, or most motherfuckers-for that matter, espouse rhetorical theories about anything more than what I
download pay for. Especially religion. That’s a hot-button with people that have degrees in Theology (my mom being one of those people). Much less with someone who, for the most part, makes music about shallow things.
As far as a rapper teaching a history class, I’ll say this much; anybody “teaching” me history is probaby in the some misinformed boat as me. I don’t shoot messengers, anyway.
Let me be clear; I’m not against the idea of outsiders taking advantage of specific facets of the culture. That’s nothing new. I’m just saying. This isn’t ‘Real-Life Karaoke,’ where the best career impersonation wins body shots of patron on the body of their choice. This is school, an institution parents bust their asses to one day enroll their children in, under the guise of obtaining a finalizing education. Save the “guest appearances” for DJ Clue or somebody. Or, at least make the visit rap-related, in terms of a music/arts/performance class project. I’m pretty sure most of the students in these classes & all of their paying guardians would concur. & look, if I wanted to hear arbitrary Jesus talk from a rap star, I could just as easily follow Rev Run on Twitter. & he doesn’t charge per unit. Pause.
For the record, though, if any rapscallion can pull off a cross between common sense logic & charisma & make the audience feel enlightened, it’s Bun B. Clearly he’s mastered the art of public speaking. His case may possibly be the exception to the others; past, present & most likely, future. Even if KRS-One gets an entire floor to himself & Hip Hop at Eastside High.
Add Bun B. to the growing list of rap dudes who’ve decided to tackle societies ills from a more tangible platform, & started teaching, rather than just preaching. Oddly enough, during his tenure at Rice University, Bun will discuss Hip Hop & Religion in societal cohesion. That’s a far stretch from rims & Houston hoes, but I can see this working in his favor. I’ve listened to UGK long enough to know that Bun was the more “book smart” of the duo, & I’m sure he’s at least smart enough to hold logical, thought-provoking conversations with open-minded, wide-eyed teenagers (which is all that college really is, anyway, right?).
& while they’re handing out student bodies like this was Freaknik, I think Ras Kass deserves to be teaching a thing or 2 to some of his contemporaries, about how to survive the real rap game. Namely, Lupe Fiasco. I use Ras as an example because, like Lupe, Ras has never officially attempted to be an overground star. I know from interviewing him before he had a deal with Priority Records that Ras has been in the game for roughly 15 years, & even through the legal adversities & personal demons, dude is still pushing. & in what I think is the biggest hustle move in my lifetime, Ras asked fans to fund his newest album, ‘A.D.I.D.A.S. & & they did. That’s old school style love & respect that Hip Hop doesn’t know much about anymore. There’s too much emotion stagnating the creativity these days. Which brings me to my point:
I don’t think Lupe Fiasco really wants the pressure the rap industry applies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’ve been in that position, as have thousands of other hopeful cats, of realizing that being a rapper isn’t what I wanted. Maybe I wanted to write, or create, but it’s too hard to be a rapper, & dangerous, & surely I can write & create without worrying about chain snatchings, diss records, & generally blactivity screwing up my career. In that case, fuck rap, so to speak.
However, if I did choose to continue my pursuit, surely I wouldn’t be in a hurry to sign my life away on a dotted line, knowing what the industry entails. At that point, any ranting & raving would be futile, or make me look like the type of guy that rushes into shit without knowing what’s really good. Either way, I’d rather not be the guy who makes you feel guilty for supporting AND not supporting my music, or the guy who blames all my problems on a third party. That’s kind of what Lupe’s been doing for awhile, but no shots.
& for the record, Ras Kass is every bit as much of a pretentious douche nozzle as Lupe, in case that’s an issue of concern. Perhaps that would even be a bridge of communication of sorts; Ras could open up class with how he was so futuristic in the beginning of his career that he’s still waiting for the world to catch up (which is very much true).
I’d like to see more rappers teaching, only I’d advise that we get some sort of credentials system in place. (&, it would behoove said rappers to teach what they know, though, because “making it in the biz” doesn’t apply to every facet of civilian life.) Heaven forbid rappers start taking themselves more seriously, & realize that influence is the same whether it’s towards college courses or drug dealing. The irony in Bun B. being sequestered for educational purposes is that, just months ago, B’s home state of Texas decided to rewrite history. Just saying.
Bun B. featuring Drake
Put It Down
Royce Da 5’9″
My Own Planet
Eyes Of The Tiger
Shyne featuring Notorious B.I.G., Bob Marley
NORE (of C-N-N)
Skyzoo & !LLMIND