Disclaimer: Obviously it would behoove you to read Hip Hop and Higher Education Part I prior to reading this posting. Thank You.
Name one e Rapper that you know that attended college. Name one Rapper that graduated from college. Rappers credit Hip Hop music as the reason that they are successfully some have even went on to say Hip Hop music saved their lives. So with that said are we to think that every Rapper was in the streets or impoverished in some way before coming into the game? The lyrical content of some would lead you to that conclusion but why would you share only one side of the story? Believe it or not plenty of Rappers were matriculating at colleges before they decided to venture into the world of music on a full-time basis.
These days artists seem like they don’t have anything new to rap about yet they haven’t rapped about a plethora of things such as higher education or their experience with education beyond high school. Rappers are quick to mention not graduating high school like education stopped there and picked up in the streets. I don’t think Rappers are ashamed of their education but we know the historical implications behind blacks not wanting to express their level of intelligence for fear of lynching in the days of slavery especially for black males. I’m pretty sure label execs have gone to damn near every Rapper and told them they can’t mention college or any type of education unless it references dropping out, selling drugs at school, or wanting to smash a teacher or two.
Youth in our community have no examples to look to as far as attending college and continuing your education. Granted some have parents who attended college but don’t look to them for influence like they do Rappers. Young Rappers today are about the same age as the youth that purchase their music unlike the considerable age gap that was seen between artist and listener in the early 80s. Our youth need to be inspired to be more and even though college isn’t for everyone it’s definitely better than staying behind to work, going into the military, or everybody’s favorite nothing. The last time a Rapper mentioned college we were blessed with a classic from Kanye West titled “College Dropout”. That example alone diminishes any argument about not being able to market that type of project but goes back to my last point about glorifying the wrong messages involving education. I was definitely ready to change my major to music production (dumbest thing I could’ve done was actually drop out).
Every child doesn’t have a parent like I did making college a requirement early on. Every child doesn’t have a guidance counselor like I did that was on my back about college applications even giving me free transcripts for each application. Every child does not have those resources Hip Hop is their resource! People always have something to say about Flavor Flav but he has a degree in Communications from Adelphi University. Where else would he meet Chuch D?! You really think Ludacris would’ve made it as far as he did without his BA in Music Management from Georgia State University? As an alumni of St. Johns University, J. Cole talks about his college experiences on all his projects in various stories. Our kids need to know this information! If you told a kid if you go to college you can major in music to break into the game mad kids would enroll. Kids are smart but naïve because of their age. Even when I was applying to colleges I already had a plan and I suffer from tunnel vision so I never looked into any other majors or even thought that majoring in music would be possible. I know college isn’t a requirement to be successful in the Rap music industry but it sure would help some people make better career decisions.
Encouraging kids to major in music could motivate them to think critically and actually do something that they want to do. Inspiring them think for themselves or make sound decisions about their future. Kids need stimulus in a positive direction. Rappers I hold you accountable in every blog post and this is no different. If there is no encouragement in a positive direction all of the potential and energy goes in the wrong direction and causes a chain reaction of others going in the wrong direction. Kids do what their friends do even if they know it’s wrong because adolescents is a follower society. Lil Romeo attended the University of Southern California but he isn’t as influential as he once was. Rick Ross one of the most popularized Rappers out attended Albany State University but all we know is that he used to be a Correctional Officer! Das EFX was discovered by EPMD at a talent show when they attended Virginia State University! Rah Digga majored in electrical engineering at NJ Institute of Technology and out there is a young female Hip Hop fan who has the same interests but all of her friends are getting pregnant and she sees no way out.
Some founders of major Hip Hop magazines and other ‘behind the scenes’ positions have college degrees why not share this with your readers? Sometimes we get a random article mentioning rappers that went to college but that’s not enough. Do an article about an artist and their experience, visit the college, have them do a Q&A, and give it some substance. Higher education does not have be some taboo subject for rappers. It happened in your life so share it with your listeners. Some of you rap about everything else and half of it we don’t care about if we even know what you’re talking about. You can tell when a Rapper has continued their education beyond high school and it shows in their lyrics. The sheer mention of a particular university could spike the number of applications received, enrollment could increase, and retention at HBCUs I’m sure would sky rocket. (We’ll discuss HBCUs and Hip Hop Culture in the final installment of this blog series) If a rapper names a song “Tom Ford” everybody instantly wants Tom Ford not knowing he specializes in men’s suits so why wouldn’t the same effect be true for university attendance?
Here are two articles from the past couple of months discussing Rappers attending college: