I’ve been teaching a dream class at North Carolina Central University for the past two years called Hip Hop, Music and Politics (it was originally called, It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop: Music and Political Movements – I abbreviated the title this semester for simplicity’s sake). This class is the culmination of my interests as a musician and scholar. We basically look at various political movements, including the Anti-Lynching Movement, Rastafari Movement, and the Black Power Movement and explore how the music of artists such as Billie Holiday, Bob Marley and Gil Scott Heron were in revolutionary dialogue with their respective movements. Sound interesting? Read more in this Campus Echo article written by one of my students, Jorashae Graddick:
If you walk into the special topics in political science course, Hip Hop Music and Politics, you might be surprised to find a professor who looks a lot like a typical college student.
It will be Pierce Freelon, adjunct professor of political science and local hip-hop emcee, standing in front of the class bobbing his head to Bob Marley and the Wailers’ album, “Catch a Fire,” waiting for class to begin.
Or he might be performing a freestyle poem pertaining to the day’s discussion on the origins of hip hop music.
Freelon says his class is designed to help students learn the value of self-determination and begin to choose their own reality.
Freelon said the political science department at N.C. Central University was particularly active in the community when he was an undergraduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill.
“I identified with their grassroots activism and it’s been an awesome partnership thus far,” said Freelon, who teaches a similar course, “Blacks in Popular Culture,” at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Freelon studied African and African-American studies at UNC and he earned his master’s degree from Syracuse University in pan-African studies and the diaspora.
But at the end of the day as he hangs up his professor jacket and puts on an emcee jacket. “An emcee is a part of something larger, a cultural, social, and political movement of hip hop,” said Freelon, who refers to himself as an emcee, not a rapper.
Freelon is the lead vocalist in “The Beast,” a jazz, soul and Afrocuban influenced hip hop group that is active in the the Triangle.
Read entire article at the Campus Echo website.