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Hip-Hop U gives UNLV students a deeper history of rap music 

Dr. Chris Harris and Sebern Coleman of Nevada State College explain the most common misinterpreted words and phrases in the hip-hop community during their “Hip-Hop and Neo-Liberalism” workshop. PETER LACASCIA/THE REBEL YELL

 
UNLV students were provided with historical information to give insight to a controversial genre at Hip-Hop U on May 2 at the Student Union.

Hip-Hop U is a symposium intended to explain the poetic significance of rap music.

Hip-hop has been among the most profitable and commercially-successful genres of music since the 1980s and despite the genre’s prominent legacy, the hip-hop has often been the focal point of controversy.

Hip-hop supporters, in response, have attempted to persuade the public that this genre of music solely serves to tell stories through poetry, rather than promote deviant behavior.

“I have always despised how hip-hop music receives a bad reputation as a form of entertainment that alters and destroys the minds of the youth,” said Cherjanet Lenzy, Associate Director for Intercultural Programs and Hip-Hop U host.

Dr. Chris Harris and Sebern Coleman of Nevada State College explain the most common misinterpreted words and phrases in the hip-hop community during their “Hip-Hop and Neo-Liberalism” workshop. PETER LACASCIA/THE REBEL YELL

Dr. Chris Harris and Sebern Coleman of Nevada State College explain the most common misinterpreted words and phrases in the hip-hop community during their “Hip-Hop and Neo-Liberalism” workshop. PETER LACASCIA/THE REBEL YELL

“The purpose of Hip-Hop U is to prove that rap music is musical poetry, minus all the instruments,” she said.

“I have learned so much,” said Xavier Bradley. “I always thought rap music was nothing more than disobedient lyrics and random sounds made with computer programs, but now I realize how much poetry and artistic vision create these songs.”

Students attending the event received 4×6 postcards containing lyrics to hip-hop songs written about social justice, such as “Keep Ya Head Up” by 2Pac and “You Must Learn” by Boogie Down Productions.

Each portion of the seven-hour event was held in different rooms throughout the second floor of the Student Union.

Dr. Christ Emdin of Columbia University opened the event from his home in Manhattan, broadcasting his lecture, “Messages of Hip-Hop 101”, via Skype.

Emdin described hip-hop music as a form of peaceful protest that uses metaphors and poetic analogies to convey influential messages, citing “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, and “You Must Learn” by BDP as examples.

After Emdin’s speech, students had the option to attend several academic workshops that covered a wide range of topics, from feminist themes in hip-hop to France’s influence on the culture.

Lenzy advertised Hip-Hop U via the Intercultural Studies department’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and plastered posters throughout campus, attracting 76 people as a result.

Lenzy said that students can expect to see another Hip-Hop U in Fall 2014, due to the event’s success.

“In the memorable words of Ice Cube: ‘Today was a good day,’” says Lenzy. “I strongly desire to produce another symposium by next semester, add more workshops and lectures and hope to exceed all possible standards and expectations.”

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