Friday, September 25, 2009

2pac: Academic Research Subject

Last week I had a talk with a longtime Bay Area high school teacher who incorporates hip-hop pedagogy into this lesson plans. After 18 years in classrooms throughout California and having toured schools in several different countries, he was adamant about one thing: 2pac is the most influential musical icon to young people, hands down.

As a teacher, Pac's influence became especially important for him when it came to translating the lived experiences many young people of color face to ideas in the classroom. According to this teacher, it doesn't matter the classroom or continent, wherever there's a community in struggle, 2pac is the most enduring musical icon for young folks because his music speaks, in a very real way, about struggle.

And it looks like the same can also by said for the ivory tower.

Recently Pac's work was back in the news when his mother, Afeni Shakur, donated over 150 of the slain rapper's writings to Robert W. Woodruff Library at Atlanta University Center. The collection includes rough drafts of raps, poems and a photocopy of the the rapper's original contract with Death Row records.

The library is home to Atlanta's historically Black colleges, including Spelman, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta, and the Morehouse School of Medicine.

I can't think of any other artist of our generation who's had such a profound impact, both culturally and academically. Off the top of my head, there's maybe Thelonious Monk and, later, Billie Holiday. But even then, it took decades for Black music to gain legitamacy as a topic worthy of scholarly research.

So why's 2pac so relevant? Check out this video, which I first peeped over at Colin's blog. It's as relevant today as it was back in '92. At least, I think so.


Anonymous said...

great post jamilah. this video always shakes me up. its both amazing but also heartbreaking he had no choice but to grow up so fast. at the age of 20 i was sitting cozy at ucsc on my way from class to the beach.=T

kori chen sent me a link to the article about mama shakur donating a ton of her son's works. its wild how more than a decade after his death, he's still felt so deeply by so many.

stay up!

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