After an entire course taught on Outkast was offered at an American university in 2016, it seems that academics are continuing to realise the scholarly potential of hip-hop and rap music.
Now, Washington University in St. Louis is offering ‘The Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics.’
Including a segment on the notorious Taylor Swift incident, the course explores fame, gender, sexuality, and race through a case study of Kanye West.
According to St. Louis Post Dispatch, the class is overwhelmed with 75 students and even more on the waiting list.
Taught by Dr Jeffrey McCune, associate professor in the African and African-American Studies and the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies departments, the course will be a “good way to get students to connect issues of politics, race, gender, sexuality and culture.”
While McCune is the same age as West, and grew up in the same neighbourhood, his class won’t be an excuse to sit back and enjoy the music. It will focus on the ingrained social stigma and stereotypes that pursue African American’s as “always thought of as maybe being articulate or smart but not really genius.”
“Hip-hop is a way to show our creative genius,” McCune said to St Louis Post Dispatch “Kanye really uses hip-hop as a vehicle to display all of his talents, albeit some better than others.”
From his notoriously intense political rants to bizarre television interviews, the media thrives on West, mostly translating “his sense of black excellence (and) “his belief that we have within us the capacity for greatness” as “narcissism and arrogance.”
But, as he told Post Dispatch, the kind of discourse McCune aims to encourage is very relevant to young people today.
“(There’s also) a healthy dose of confidence and investment in black excellence that translates to so many people, and young people in particular. I knew my students had connections to Kanye. They’re always referencing his music and performances and videos and fashion. What better time than now to take seriously Kanye West as a cultural icon? I’m always interested in how he’s pushing whatever boundaries.”
The course will covering overarching issues as well as specific moments such as the notorious incident at the 2009 MTV awards when he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech.
Check out the official course description here.