Don’t Sweat the Technique: An Examination of Hip-Hop’s Social, Political, and Cultural Relevance

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Credits: .5

Students in this class will examine the social, political, and economic circumstances that led to the creation of what has become the most powerful force in popular culture, hip-hop. We will study the ways in which hip-hop emerged as a response to a black, urban America that was being forever changed by the forces of deindustrialization and globalization – forces that are perhaps more relevant now than ever. Some of the questions that will inform our study are: How, where, and why did hip-hop emerge? How and why did hip-hop become the voice of urban youth in post-civil rights America? We will also examine hip-hop’s place in the history of American social and political commentary, particularly of the Black experience. As America and the world has changed, how has hip-hop reflected and adapted to these changes? How and why has hip-hop been able to move out of the South Bronx and into places like Simsbury while remaining relevant and authentic to the wildly different audiences from both of those locales, and what does this move say about America itself?