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Indiana University Bloomington Major Characteristic of Hip Hop Music Essay

Indiana University Bloomington Major Characteristic of Hip Hop Music Essay

Question Description

Short Writing Assignment 1: Defining Hip Hop

Part 1: Read the following different pairs of definitions of “hip hop” from various sources (some definitions are intentionally provocative).

What is hip hop?

“Hip Hop is still fundamentally an art form that traffics in hyperbole, parody, kitsch, dramatic license, double entendres, signification, and other literary and artistic conventions to get its point across.” Michael Eric Dyson, scholar (Dyson 2007: xvii)

“Hip-Hop does not make it exceptionally endearing to me by the attitude that the menfolk have towards the women. It’s very difficult to hold your head up with dignity when guys are looking at you like you just some b*tch or a hoe. It’s not exactly a fun kind of subculture for the women. It’s all good for the men that get to be machismo and posture and strut about, that’s all good. But the ladies…it’s very hard.” Lady Pink, graffiti writer (quoted in Aqua)

“Hip-hop was born in New York City in the mid-1970s as a vehicle for inner-city youth to throw parties on their blocks and at area clubs, and for them to make money as DJs and promoters.” Kevin Powell, writer (Powell)

“According to one ex-high Satanist, it is identical with the voodoo chants and rituals used within Satanism to summon up demons of lust and violence.” Jack Chick, Battle Cry newspaper (Small 1992: 4)

“Hip and Hop is more than music
Hip is the knowledge
Hop is the movement
Hip and Hop is intelligent movement” KRS-One and Marley Marl lyrics to song “Hip Hop Lives”

“Hip-hop, everybody’s allowed to come in it, because it’s a street thing. I heard someone say, ‘Frank Ocean hip-hop artist.’ He is, hip-hop loves Frank Ocean, he’s our brother, but [he’s not a hip-hop artist]. Miguel is not a hip-hop artist. Trey Songz is not a hip-hop artist. They’re singers.” Nas (Bené Viera)

” Hip Hop music is made from black, brown, yellow, red, white—whatever music that gives you the grunt, that funk, that groove or that beat. It’s all part of hip hop.” Afrika Bambaataa, DJ (Davy D)

“Hip-hop is about youth and the young at heart.” Kool Herc, DJ (Mao 2013: 66)

Part 2: Drawing on 2-4 of the definitions provided above and chapters 1-5 of our textbook Rap and Hip Hop Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015) complete the following 4 steps which contain strict guidelines and some (semi-open ended) questions to develop an argument to help you explain the different ideas community members and media critics have about “hip hop.”

  1. (0-5 points) In one paragraph, set your tone and inform your reader that you are about to address the complex and inconsistent ways “we” have defined and misused the terms “hip hop” and “rap.” Can you do it in an interesting way to draw a reader to continue reading your work? Required elements:
    • Focus on 2-4 examples as opposed to responding to every definition on the list.
    • What background information does your reader need to know in order to understand your claim? (example: why it is necessary to address definitions. Or how key terms are used and abused. Or …)
    • Who does “we” represent?
    • Your last sentence should be your claim.
  2. (0-7.5 points) In the following 2-3 paragraphs, problematize(to view as a problem to solve) a couple of the definitions. Introduce your evidence to prove your claim. NOTE: Your opinion alone is not sufficient. Instead, you must draw on the other definitions from this group to help support your argument and draw on the data from your textbook and/or you may draw on other academically sound materials and include that source in your WORKS CITED page.
  3. (0-5 points) In the following paragraph, anticipate a counterargument or counterarguments: What might a reader pose against your argument or your reasoning?
    • Recognize your own biases: I am young and a current fan of hip hop culture. OR I am an older fan and perhaps romanticize the past too much. OR I am male and might ignore the ways it has impacted female participants. OR…
    • End by re-establishing why your argument is more right than wrong.
  4. (0-7.5 points) In the final 1 or 2 paragraphs answer the very dubious question: So what? Explain why it is important to be critical of people’s ideas and why a critical thinker like yourself has a duty to challenge authoritative voices (it is quite possible to develop a strong argument against the great, almighty Nas’s definition or a scholar dedicated to Africana studies like Dr. Dyson).
    • It is possible to introduce new information in your concluding thoughts; however, it takes some skill to do so successfully. Are you up to the challenge? Are you able to propose a longer thesis based on this exercise?

Your write-up should be about 1,000 words total (only 10% more or less will be accepted without penalty; double-space; font 12). You will also include a work cited page (see NOTE 3 below).

Things to keep in mind.

NOTE 1: When a text is quoted or paraphrased, you must cite the page number parenthetically. For example:

According to Keyes, the concept of rapping in hip hop can be traced from “African bardic traditions to black oral expressive forms of the South” (2002:39), implying that…

NOTE 2: Good writing is important. UNDISCLOSED POINT DEDUCTION for papers that have not been proofread. Use spellcheck and grammar check and/or go to the writing tutorial services on campus:

NOTE 3: While we provide the sources for this assignment it is good practice to demonstrate you know how to cite your sources properly. If you use an outside source (lyrics from, a quote from the film Style Wars, etc.), you must include it in your work cited page. Need help with the Works Cited page? Take a look at MLA Style Guide online: (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

NOTE 4: Anticipate problems with server or Wi-Fi connection or any of life’s unexpected events. There is a generous window period to get this short assignment accomplished. Get your work done early. I recommend submitting as early as possible so that you can check your Canvas folder and see your document and date of submission. No Excuses!!! You will/can receive a receipt from CANVAS.

NOTE 5: Emails sent to me with your paper attached or a screen capture of the date you completed the essay but did not submit it will be deleted.

NOTE 6: I will post grades within a week.


Aqua. 2007.”WildStyle@25: Lady Pink.” (Links to an external site.)

Davy D. 1996. “What is Hip Hop?” From Davy D’s Hip Hop Corner. (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

Dyson, Michael Eric. 2007. Know What I Mean? Reflections on Hip Hop. New York: Basic Civitas Books. Pp. xvii

KRS-One and Marley Marl. 2007. “Hip Hop Lives.” Hip Hop Lives. Koch Records.

Mao, Jeff. 2013. “Mythic Crates.” Wax Poetic 56: 60-68.

Powell, Kevin. “A Hip-Hop Story.” From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website. (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

Small, Michael. 1992. Break It Down: The Inside Story from the New Leaders of Rap. New York: Citadel Press.

Viera, Bené. “EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Nas Says ‘Hip-Hop Has Died Many Deaths,’ Doesn’t Get The Respect It Deserves.” From (Links to an external site.)


SWA #1 Rubric

Criteria Ratings Pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeIntroduction and Thesis

5.0 pts

Full Marks

0.0 pts

No Marks

5.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeProblematizing Definitions

7.5 pts

Full Marks

0.0 pts

No Marks

7.5 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeCounter Argument(s)

5.0 pts

Full Marks

0.0 pts

No Marks

5.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeCritical Importance

7.5 pts

Full Marks

0.0 pts

No Marks

7.5 pts

Total Points: 25.0

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