Special Topics in African American Literature: OutKast and the Rise of the Hip Hop South Dr. Regina N. Bradley
In 1995, Atlanta, GA, duo OutKast attended the Source Hip Hop Awards, where they won the award for best new duo. Mostly attended by bicoastal rappers and hip hop enthusiasts, OutKast was booed off the stage. OutKast member Andre Benjamin, clearly frustrated, emphatically declared what is now known as the rallying cry for young black southerners: "the South got something to say."
For this course, we will use OutKast's body of work as a case study questioning how we recognize race and identity in the American South after the civil rights movement. Using a variety of post–civil rights era texts including film, fiction, criticism, and music, students will interrogate OutKast's music as the foundation of what the instructor theorizes as "the hip hop South," the southern black social-cultural landscape in place over the last twenty-five years.
1. To develop and utilize a multidisciplinary critical framework to successfully engage with conversations revolving around contemporary identity politics and (southern) popular culture
2. To challenge students to engage with unfamiliar texts, cultural expressions, and language in order to learn how to be socially and culturally sensitive and aware of modes of expression outside of their own experiences.
3. To develop research and writing skills to create and/or improve one's scholarly voice and others via the following assignments:
• Critical listening journal
• Nerdy hip hop review
**Explicit Content Statement**
Over the course of the semester students will be introduced to texts that may be explicit in nature (i.e., cursing, sexual content). Students should be fully aware that these types of texts, though believed offensive, should still be discussed with respect to the opinions of peers, the instructor, and creator of the text in question.
Required Texts and Materials:
Laymon, Kiese Long Division
Robinson, Zandria F. This Ain't Chicago
Ward, Jesmyn Where the Line Bleeds
Jones, Tayari Leaving Atlanta
Hobson, Maurice The Legend of the Black Mecca: Politics and Class in the Making of Modern Atlanta
Bradley, Regina Boondock Kollage: Stories from the Hip Hop South
Select readings [End Page 236]
Select OutKast Discography:
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)
Select Course Assignments
Critical Listening Journal
The student is required to keep a running journal discussing assigned listening exercises. These entries will help the student prepare for meetings with the instructor as well as prepare for the nerdy hip hop review. Students will bring their journals with them to class where they will be sporadically graded by the instructor. While there is no word count for these journals, they are a great way to engage more deeply with the musical texts being analyzed in the class that day. Some questions include but are not limited to:
» What stands out beyond the lyricism of the musical text? What do I hear? What catches my attention? How does what the track(s) sound like impact the story/narrative being read?
» What is distinctively southern about the musical text?
» If this is my first time listening to this musical text, what state of mind does it put me in?
If this is not my first time listening to this musical text, what has changed/caught my attention since the first time I heard the work?
Nerdy Hip Hop Review
Using a critical lens, the student will theorize the significance of how hip hop impacts negotiations of race, identity, gender, or class in the post–civil rights American South. The student's nerdy hip hop review must contain the following elements:
» MINIMUM of 2,500 words; MAXIMUM of 3,000 words
» Demonstrated mastery of course material, ability to apply it to an original argument
» You must include a MINIMUM of two (2) critical secondary sources to support developing argument from outside required course readings
» A nuanced discussion of southern hip hop influences
» Student should use music in tandem with literary and cultural texts discussed in and outside of class (if applicable). [End Page 237]
Week by Week Schedule*
*Subject to change with advanced notice