During the pandemic lockdown, on 27 August 2020, I posted a trove of documents under the title A Tentative Start to a Unit on the History of Hip-Hop. Basically, it was a longish essay larded with documents with which I’d been struggling for years to synthesize into a real unit. Last year, the impetus and time such an endeavor requires came together; I was able to assemble a seventeen-lesson, reasonably cogent unit out of the materials, augmented with newer material that I published in that original post in the late summer of 2020.
My aim in this unit is to situate Hip-Hop in the broader global oral tradition. I began this unit initially, and begin it now, with these two apercus from Chuck D (Carlton Douglas Ridenhour) from the seminal Hip-Hop group Public Enemy:“We’re almost like headline news…. Rap music is the invisible TV station that Black America never had….”; “Rap is the CNN of young Black people.” So, to start off this unit, here is the prelude lesson to the History of Hip-Hop Unit along with the worksheet for prompting discussion of the statements above from Chuck D.
From the planning materials folder for this unit, here is the unit plan, the lesson-plan template, and the worksheet template so that you can add lessons or alter them to fit the needs of your classroom. When I passed this unit by some colleagues, they all asked questions along the lines of “No Bob Dylan?” A fair question, since there is abundant evidence of Dylan’s influence on Hip-Hop. Another possible lesson would call upon students to make the connection between Dub music and Hip-Hop; there is, I think, a reason beyond fashion cool that Jay-Z was seen in a t-shirt bearing the Tuff Gong Recording Studios logo. So, as I assembled the materials for this unit, I did so with the idea that ultimately I might add lessons, or, indeed, break this into two units.
I also cached some Cultural Literacy and context clues worksheets in this unit’s planning materials folder for future use. Here they are if you want them:
Cultural Literacy: active voice; aka; aphorism; blank verse; circumlocution; comedy; complex sentence; complex-compound sentence; compound sentence; conjunctions; contraction; couplet; cultural imperialism; demagogue; denotation; double entendre, and four-letter word.
Finally, as I have mentioned to the point of tedium on this blog, all but one of the documents in this sixteen-lesson unit are formatted in Microsoft Word. That means you can adapt, alter, revise, edit, and generally manipulate them to suit the needs of your classroom.
If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.