McNally Smith College of Music

Hip-Hop Studies

Though it dates back only a few decades, hip-hop as an art form and a culture already has a rich history, with a global reach and influence. According to author Nelson George hip-hop “assert[s] a lasting influence on American clothing, magazine publishing, television, language… and social policy as well as its obvious presence in records and movies.”

Hip-hop’s multi-faceted influence merits study under a number of different disciplines and requires specialization for a program to flourish. Given McNally Smith’s musical focus, the Hip-Hop Studies program centers around hip-hop music production and performance. To complement this technology-oriented education, the Hip-Hop Studies program offers a comprehensive overview of the history of hip-hop and provides opportunities for students to experiment, perform, and promote themselves as independent hip-hop artists.

The Hip-Hop Studies diploma program — the first of its kind in the United States — was introduced at McNally Smith College of Music in 2009

Diploma candidates immerse themselves in hip-hop culture, technology, and business for three semesters. Students get closer to their goal through hands on experience and critique from industry professionals. Performance, production, language, music theory, history, and business are all included in the diploma program’s curriculum. The Hip-hop Studies department also offers a minor, available to students pursuing Bachelor degrees in any area.

The Hip-Hop Studies faculty includes program coordinator Toki Wright (Rhymesayers Entertainment), both members of Mexican-American production and rap duo Big Quarters, legendary DJ and producer Freddy Fresh, and Sean McPherson, co-founder and bassist of Twin Cities hip-hop group Heiruspecs. Members of the Hip-Hop Studies faculty have worked with AtmosphereFatboy Slim, Stankonia StudiosDilated Peoples, and other national and local hip-hop artists.

Sample Courses

  • Language of Rap and Spoken Word
  • Diaspora of African Music
  • Hip-Hop Music Production
  • Deejay or Emcee Techniques
  • Hip-Hop Culture’s Impact on Society

If you are interested in the Hip-Hop Studies program, please download the Hip-Hop Audition Requirements.

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