UCLA LAUNCHES HIP HOP INITIATIVE

Pictured at the California African American Museum are (l-r) Chuck D, Rakim, Talib Kweli, Tyree Boyd-Pates and Alim.

UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies has launched its new Hip Hop Initiative. Chuck D, co-founder of Public Enemy, will serve as the first artist-in-residence for the undertaking, which will feature community-engagement programs, an oral history and digital archive project, postdoctoral fellowships and more.

“As we celebrate 50 years of hip-hop music and cultural history, the rigorous study of the culture offers us a wealth of intellectual insight into the massive social and political impact of Black music, Black history and Black people on global culture,” said anthropology professor H. Samy Alim, who is spearheading the initiative.

Said Chuck D, “With this 50-year-old art form, you can hear directly from the sources—about the inspiration, the impact, the connectivity between the creators and the audience."

The program will also expand the “Hip Hop Studies Series” of books published by the University of California Press and edited by Alim and Jeff Chang (“Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation”).

Co-leading the initiative with Alim are Bunche Center assistant Director Tabia Shawel and Samuel Lamontagne, Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology. The advisory board will include Chuck D, dream hampton, Joan Morgan, Davey D and UCLA alumni Chang and Ben Caldwell, who will serve alongside professors Cheryl Keyes, Bryonn Bain, Adam Bradley, Scot Brown, Gaye Theresa Johnson, Robin Kelley, Kyle Mays and Shana Redmond.

The initiative comes two years after the roundtable “Sweat the Technique: The Politics and Poetics of Hip-Hop,” featuring East Coast rappers Chuck D, Rakim and Talib Kweli, which laid the groundwork for UCLA's new program.

Photo credit: HRDWRKER/Courtesy of California African American Museum

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