English 51 - Winter, 2020

Hot Bars, Supreme Lyrics, and Rhymes for Days: Hip Hop as Poetry

Class Information

Instructor: Kossak, Benjamin
CRN: 55204
Time: TR 1:40-3:00
Location: 261 Olson


    This course considers hip hop as a source of some of the greatest innovators of American poetry, from Afrika Bambaataa to Rakim, Tupac, Mos Def, Kendrick Lamar and Tierra Whack. It examines MCing?the composition and performance or rap lyrics?in relation to the other four pillars of hip hop: turntablism, graffiti, b-boying, and knowledge. Attention will be paid to different innovators? art of the line and to how performance of rap lyrics brings attention to poetic structures upon which audience pleasure depends.

    Primary texts include: Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop, by Adam Bradley and a course playlist along with transcriptions of the song lyrics.


    Attendance and participation: 30%
    Weekly quizzes: 50%
    Final exam: 20%


    Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop, Adam Bradley