Meant To Be Shared: Columbia College Chicago’s Hip-Hop Studies Program

“I saw hip-hop as a platform to bring people together," says professor Amina Norman-Hawkins.

[caption id="attachment_209595" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Amina Norman-Hawkins. Photo by Ryan Brockmeier/Midway Doc[/caption] Defining Chicago hip-hop isn’t a straightforward task. Though hip-hop is a culture imprinted on Chicago’s identity — see Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, and Chief Keef — there doesn’t seem to be one inherent sonic thread tying together the various hip-hop artists who came up in the Chicago scene. But that doesn’t mean the scene can’t be united. In the fall semester of 2017, the liberal arts school Columbia College Chicago launched a new program: A Hip-Hop Studies minor. While many colleges offer classes in the history of hip-hop or even hip-hop dance, few offer full-blown programs touching on all aspects of hip-hop’s culture. Though Columbia’s Hip-Hop Studies minor is not the first of its kind (McNally Smith College of Music, Bowie State University, and University of Arizona all offer a Hip-Hop minor), it is the first of its kind in Chicago. Such programs haven’t come without criticism, of course. Some have questioned the academic value of spending college tuition studying hip-hop, but these programs are more than just working on rhymes and flows. Having been underway for two semesters and officially in full-swing, Columbia’s Hip-Hop minor takes an…

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