The subject of relationships between people in the same craft has come up several times before. For instance, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald championed each other’s literature. Paul Gaugin and Vincent van Gogh pushed each other to new heights of Post-Impressionistic art. John Lennon and Paul McCartney blended their talents into songwriting classics. And now Jay Z and Kanye West have established a hip-hop empire.
The relationship between the two rappers is the subject of the University of Missouri course, “Jay Z and Kanye West" that is taught through the English department by instructor Andrew Hoberek who compares the iconic rappers to poets in an interview with music blog "Consequence of Sound."
“I really do think that these guys are warming up to the level of major poets, and not many people think of it in those terms. They’re very much like painters and novelists in the 20th century, moving beyond the confines of the art form’s boundaries.”
Students study the two men's intersecting careers from three perspectives:
- Where do they fit within, and how do they change, the history of hip-hop music?
- How is what they do similar to and different from what poets do?
- How does their rise to both celebrity and corporate power alter what we understand as the American dream?
In addition to listening to music and watching videos, students will also read Jay Z's Decoded; histories of and critical works on rap music by Jeff Chang, Adam Bradley, and others; and one or two good studies of how poetry works.
The class meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:00 to 11:50 a.m.
Hoberek makes a valid point about the two well-known rappers. Jay Z and Kanye’s projects are multidisciplinary, mingling visual and performance arts as integral elements of their albums and concerts, to a greater extent than their predecessors. All of this is worth exploring in an academic setting.
This is not the first time this course has been offered. It was offered in 2013. Since it went so well, the university is offering it again especially because there seems to be a strong interest in these contemporaries.
Click here to see "Jay Z and Kanye West" course description.