Students hip hop on to a new course
By Sara Marett
With a course syllabus that would make Puff Daddy and Snoop Doggy Dog proud, music students at the University of Alberta are hip hop happy.
Alberta's new Institute for Popular Music may offer the only course that students are guaranteed not to fall asleep in hip hop music. Adam Krims, who may just be Canada's hippest professor, has incorporated the edgy, socially aware music into the curriculum of his third-year musical theory course.
An overwhelming response to the course has caused the music department to revamp its introductory music course next year to incorporate Krims' hip hop lectures. "Students love the fact that they can get a credit for music they listen to at home.
"Once in a while someone will really freak out that I'm teaching hip hop, but usually, like any time you teach popular music, you have to beat people away with a stick," Krims said.
The course does not just discuss the genre of music, but opens up class discussion to broad cultural issues, he added. "It's a great way to talk about different cultures and not just African American, but Western and non-Western cultures as well."
Krims, who has been researching hip hop music for years, said it was only a matter of time before this style of music found its way into mainstream music studies. "People take popular music very seriously and it's important to educate, to point out its role in society," he said.
At Western, hip hop music has yet to make its debut in the classroom and may not any time soon. "I just can't see it happening here," said second-year music student Katarina Lundbald.
Music dean Jeffrey Stokes said Western's focus is on the traditional, classical roots of music. "Rather than dabbling in numerous areas, we prefer to focus on the traditional Western areas of music," Stokes said. He added the faculty does offer music courses for non-music students, many of which incorporate various music genres such as Broadway and jazz.
"I'm sure there would be a lot of students who would be interested in [a hip hop course] here," Lundbald said. Although most of Western's courses don't involve discussions on the broader cultural aspects of music, she said this is often a popular conversation topic out of the classroom among music students.