COMP 332
Hiphop and The Changing Same: African American Consciousness And Music 1925--2015 Fall 2014
Division I
Cross-listed COMP 332 / AFR 332
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

In Amiri Baraka’s book Black Music and especially in its pivotal 1967 essay ‘The Changing Same–R&B And The New Music” he examines the musical and political complementarity of the most experimental jazz of the 60s and the most socially conscious rhythm and blues of the day. Baraka proposed a populist modernism that would unite the most commercial and the most avant-garde streams of Black Music. The goal was to forge what Baraka called a Unity Music–one that would esthetically mirror and presage an ideal unification of divergent African American political philosophies and protest movements. The notion that Black Music could play a vital role in the pursuit of social justice gained popular and vocal modernist proponents during the 1920s Harlem Renaissance via Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, The Bebop Generation of Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Mary Lou Williams, Miles Davis and Max Roach who followed Ellington and Armstrong built upon their innovations and anti-racist stances. The Beboppers have been described as the ”forerunners of the Civil Rights movement” for their stance towards discrimination and radical experimentation. The post-bop and freedom jazz musicians such as Sun Ra, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, who carried the baton for freedom jazz in the late 50s and 60s came to sonically represent the fire and fury of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Through Baraka’s own creative and rhetorical interventions their music became the artistic standard bearers of the Black Arts Movement. The socially conscious R&B and Funk of the 1970s as parlayed by bands such as Earth Wind and Fire, Parliament-Funkadelic, Rufus, War and Mandrill fused the energy of freedom jazz with the populist modernism of funk avatars James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone. Their work greatly influenced global pop insurgents such as Bob Marley and The Wailers and Fela Kuti who wrought critical hybrids of indigenous and imported forms to speak truth to power in their homelands, and beyond. Hiphop culture inherited the popular modernist mantle and openly radical-activist imperative jazz had largely abandoned by the 1990s. As hiphop evolved in that decade it became a platform for new alignments of art, commerce and politics. Novel tensions emerged between the culture’s pro-capitalist instincts and its desire to represent African American working class struggle. Hiphop music in Africa simultaneously blossomed as a vehicle for anti-oppression and anti-corruption activism. The course will draw heavily upon Baraka’s seminal books Blues People and Black Music, alongside David Levering Lewis’ When Harlem Was In Vogue Tricia Rose’s Black Noise and Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop Wont Stop to revisit and re-interrogate these historic epochs when music, politics and the marketplace converged to transform the relationships between activism, mass-culture-industry production and the social consumption of music. Examination of the role music has played in forwarding and complicating African American social justice movements will be the paramount focus.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 1113
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: two 5- to 7-page papers and a final 10- to 20-page paper/project
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Africana concentrators
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COMP 332 Division I AFR 332 Division II

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