[Photo courtesy of: Erik Quinn/imagesbyQ]
By Alvin Blanco
Not only is Bun B a southern rap impresario, he’s also an academic. At the top of the year, the Texas rap legend began teaching “Religious Studies 331: Religion and Hip-Hop Culture” at Rice University. In celebration of Black History Month, MTV News spoke to Professor Trill about why he chose to step off the front of stage for a moment and into the front of the classroom, and why his course if far from your average Hip-Hop 101 class.
“The whole point of me as a Hip-Hop artist and a representative of the Hip-Hop community teaching this course, was to inspire people that Hip-Hop doesn’t have to be confined within the conditions that we know it to be confined,” said Uncle Bun. “You don’t have to just be a Hip-Hop artist in a club, or an arena or a studio or on television or on the radio. That Hip-Hop has the opportunity to educate and inform and inspire people across all walks of life, within all settings. I feel like being able to teach at a college university is a perfect example of showing how Hip-Hop can influence the minds of the next generation.”
Whether out of curiosity or genuine interest, there were enough minds eager to take Bun’s class that its size doubled to 250 students since the start of the semester. Bun B, who is noted as a “Distinguished Lecturer,” teaches the course with Religious Studies professor Dr. Anthony Pinn. With Bun’s authentic wisdom in the mix, co-eds get a genuine Hip-Hop voice to help lead the discussion.
“People are under the assumption that this is a course that I created,” Bun B said. “This was a course that was already in existence with Rice in association with the H.E.R.E. Project. The H.E.R.E. Project is Houston Enriches Rice Education. And what they’ve done with this program is taken the opportunity to bring the rich cultural history of Houston onto the campus of Rice University. Me being a part of Houston’s culture, this is a part of that process. This was the first program that asked me to actually be a part of the process: the building of the lesson plan, the forming of the syllabus, the actual lectures taking place in the class—everything that helps define the course.”
Students seeking a history of rap music must look elsewhere. The course is deeper than just rap.
“In this class it gives them an opportunity to ask questions and go towards a deeper level of introspection with this not just being a Hip-Hop course but a religion in Hip-Hop course and being based out of the Humanities and Religious Studies department,” Bun explains. “So it’s really asking real questions about people. It’s not just playing music and showing videos and stuff like that. We’re having a real dialogue and we’re showing how Hip-Hop as a culture addresses the real questions in people’s lives and how that relates to one’s spiritual or religious quest in life.”
Martin and Malcolm fought for us, Rosa sat for us. Celebrate our African American heroes during Black History Month with MTV News as we reflect on the culture’s Civil Rights icons to the present and future stars of tomorrow.
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