As a fourth year college student, I know the diversity of classes offered in colleges. I also understand that with the rigorous course that we do take to meet our major and educational requirements, sometimes we need classes that wont give us added stress. But in my personal opinion I don’t feel that Jay- Z has really contributed anything so amazing to our society that we really need to learn about him. When I think of him the first thing that comes to my mind is not a discussion of race or ethnicity nor social economic problems. The first thing that crosses my mind is rapper and music.

This article tells about a professor at Georgetown University that has a whole class dedicated to Jay-Z and his book.  Professor Micheal Eric Dyson claims that his class touches base with the main ideas of sociology such as   racial and gender identity, sexuality, capitalism and economic inequality all while focusing on Jay-Z or Shawn Carter. Micheal says that, “It just happens to have an interesting object of engagement in Jay-Z – and what better way to meet people where they are?” Dyson said. “It’s like Jesus talking to the woman at the well. You ask for a drink of water, then you get into some theological discussions.” I do agree with Micheal a class about Jay-Z is entertaining and does engage students attention to make it easier for them to become more interested in sociology. It also helps them to relate to more topics in sociology.

But in college we are there to learn things that we will use later on in life. I just don’t agree that Jay-Z is an icon American excellence as Professor Micheal said he is. He is a great rapper and a successful business man but the life he’s lead and the book he has written does not make him anymore important that any of the other artists out there. I feel that we have more affluent African Americans out there that has done more for society and will leave a mark that will benefit others than just himself when they are gone. Why not learn about these people? To me Jay-Z will just always be a great rapper but they only class that he should be studied in in school is music. He may be African- American had gone through struggles and risen to the top but this in my personal opinion doesn’t affect our society much less the world as a whole. Maybe just that it makes us a little more poorer because we shell out money for his music. concerts, clothes and now apparently a class to learn about him when we could have just goggled him.

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5 responses

  1. Indeed. Knowing his life and career won’t help us succeed in life. Also, how would this be considered even a topic to educate people? He maybe can be an example of a person becoming someone in life, but certainly not an important figure (i.e. maybe in show business and this is all where he can be considered an important person).
    Probably the professor himself is one of the fanatics.

  2. lenaelgoldin says:

    Sharon,
    I disagree with some of your argument. I am also a senior at Hunter and this Monday I had to sign up for my last semester classes. To put it nicely, I rather spend a semester watching glue dry than attend any of the classes that I had to sign up for. A lot of school including Hunter doesn’t offer a big diversity of classes that are both educational and interesting and lets face it, if you are bored in class you are not going to pay attention as much or even show up. I am not saying the professor has to jump up and down in a clown suit or do magic tricks, but they do have to connect the education aspect of it to something that is more relatable to make the class more interesting.
    I do agree with you that there are much more influential artists than Jay-Z in today society, however, compared to some other Hip Hop artists, he is one of the most diverse. He is also one of the few celebrities, who actually keeps most of the life private and is rarely seen in tabloids. Many rappers today did come from the projects and low-income families, so when they finally make it, they tend to center their music on how they finally made it big or the women, cars and diamonds they now have. Although, Jay-Z does rap about having an extravagant life, wearing expensive clothing and driving gorgeous cars he also raps about being nurtured by Brooklyn and in song “99 Problems”, he straight on confronts racial profiling:

    I heard “Son do you know why I’m stoppin’ you for?” <–
    Cause I'm young and I'm black and my hats real low? <–
    Do I look like a mind reader sir, I don't know
    Am I under arrest or should I guess some mo'?
    "Well you was doin fifty-five in a fifty-fo' " <–
    "Liscense and registration and step out of the car"
    "Are you carryin' a weapon on you I know a lot of you are" <–
    I ain't steppin out of shit all my paper's legit
    "Well, do you mind if I look round the car a little bit?"
    Well my glove compartment is locked so are the trunk in the back
    And I know my rights so you gon' need a warrant for that
    "Aren't you sharp as a tack, you some type of lawyer or something'?"
    "Or somebody important or somethin'?"
    Nah, I ain't pass the bar but i know a little bit
    Enough that you won't illegally search my shit
    "We'll see how smart you are when the K9 come"

    Of coarse we go to college in order to learn but I think it is necessary for colleges to start offering courses that are more relatable. I think it is unfair to judge this course without actually attending it. Furthermore, in undergrad, we are forced to take classes that might have nothing to do with your future career goals (I am still waiting for the day, when I will find statistics handy in my day to day life). Personally I would rather pay to enjoy a class about Jay-Z than for a semester of hell in Calculus or physics.

  3. rinarandria says:

    I also agree with the comment above. A lot of the reactions from students when they take classes they don’t like is “when am I ever going to need this in life?” and I think that is what the professor is trying to avoid. I know I myself would participate a lot more in a class that is focused on something I know and actually can relate to and I’m sure that other people would as well. I read an article about this class as well and the professor (as you stated in your blog) that he is using Jay Z and his book to help foster discussion on sociological topics. I think it’s a clever way to discuss sociology rather than only reading long, very dry articles by sociologists. We can learn a lot from the culture of a society and I think that it’s not only very effective in engaging the students but it helps us understand how our culture has evolved and what it represents today.

  4. kristybrito says:

    Jay-Z an icon of American excellence? I don’t know if there is anyone yet worthy of that title but if someone wants to spend money on taking a class about him why not? I think it’s a great idea that this class is being offered to students at Georgetown University because a lot of his music revolves around ideas of gender, race, class, politics, and many more issues within the field of sociology. Even if you never heard a Jay-Z song in your life, you could walk out of that class with more knowledge on a variety of issues that will in fact be useful in your life.
    I want you to think about Jay-Z as a narrator to struggles because he too has faced them. Black, poor, discriminated against, all these factors make him a credible subject to study because he has let the public know about them. He has had an opportunity that most of us will never have, being able to tell your story is powerful when you know so many others have experienced the same pain. In my eyes he is not excellent because he does have many sexist lyrics, but he has made valuable thought provoking music in his time for our generation on important topics.

  5. Victoria Mishaan says:

    I have to disagree with this blogpost a little bit and instead agree with a few of the comments above. I would love it if Hunter offered this course on Jay-Z. Not to sound too cheesy but it is a fun, relatable, current way of learning a lot of the lessons that old outdated textbooks are trying to teach us. As a lover of rap music, I feel that a class on Jay-Z, the struggles he went through in life, and his ways of overcoming every obstacle, and in the process, becoming one of the most affluent rappers in the business, would not only be an enticing class but a gratifying class. One that really teaches you life lessons you could use for the future. A refreshing class, the really leaves a student satisfied with the curriculum.