by Scott McRae
Concordia offered a course in the history of rock and roll. The music
department teaches jazz. English teachers assign readings on the Beat
Generation. Now, a group of Concordia students and alumni want to bring
hiphop into academia.
The group, Students for the Advancement of Hiphop Culture, is hosting
their second annual symposium on hiphop culture. Hiphop culture, according
to Diegal Léger, a Concordia independent studies student and one
of the symposiums co-ordinators, is both a mode of expression that
includes spoken word, music and physical art, and the latest manifestation
of resistance culture and oral tradition.
SAHC sees a place for hiphop almost everywhere in academia, from political
science and anthropology to performance art and management.
Eventually, the group would like to see the university establish a program
for the study of hiphop.
Some American schools have already begun to take hiphop
seriously. Harvard has a hiphop archive that stores documents, videos
and sound recordings. Berkeley (University of California) offers a course
on hiphop in black popular culture, and Boston University gives lessons
in hiphop dance for credit.
The symposium is about bringing hiphop to the academy and
the academy to hiphop. Hiphoppers are coming of age, Léger
said. We want to bring [the hiphop] community into the university
setting so that industry can blend with academia.
Louis Dufieux, a hiphop emcee and symposium organizer, has done just that.
While earning his graduate diploma in translation at Concordia last year,
he analyzed the idiomatic equivalencies amongst the hiphop originating
in New York, Havana and Paris, and showed that songs from one urban centre
could be translated into the street language of another without losing
any of their historical or cultural connotations.
Last year, approximately 150 people attended the four-day symposium. This
year, the organizers expect up to 300 or 400 attendees.
Although no professors attended last years talks, Léger said
that they attracted a wide cross-section of students, from serious fans
to a woman who was trying to figure out why hiphop appealed to her boyfriend.
This year, said Dufieux, the response has been almost overwhelming. Several
Americans plan to take part in the symposium and a hiphop fan in Brazil
inquired about it. Both the Montreal hiphop community and the Concordia
student body have expressed interest. In fact, students groups like the
Concordia Student Union and the Graduate Students Association are giving
financial support to the symposium.
Last year, workshops on the role of women in hiphop and
hiphops African roots generated the most interest and discussion.
This year, Léger expects the presentations on Islam and hiphop,
and hiphop and entrepreneurship to be the biggest draws.
According to Léger, language remains a dividing factor
in the hiphop community. Thers a separation, Léger
said. The gap needs to be eliminated. To address this, the
symposium will have a multilingual, multicultural show and Dufieux will
lead a workshop on international influences. Myriam Laabidi, a SAHC member,
will be hosting a hiphop colloquium in French at UQAM on March 6.
We want to use hiphop as a muscle, and use it the right way,
said Dufieux. This is all about promoting the advancement of hiphop.
The Second Annual Symposium on Hiphop Culture takes place from Feb. 26
to Mar. 1. Presentations will be held in Room H-762, beginning at 4 p.m.,
and shows will take place every night at Reggies from 10 p.m. until
3 a.m. Presentations and panel discussions are free; shows cost $5. For
details, visit the Web site at http://hiphop_academix.tripod.com,
or phone 845-6097.