The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Hip-hop wraps together art, education

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The Collegian logo

By Ethan Hamilton/reporter

In 1984, a New York University student named Rick Rubin started Def Jam record label with former college student Russell Simmons in his dorm. This marked the moment when rap began influencing college kids.

Def Jam signed one of the most influential rap groups ever, Run DMC while DMC was attending St. John’s University.

In the mid-80s, they performed often on college campuses providing a creative environment for students to challenge the status quo and encourage free thinking by organizing different events to improve morale.

“Hip-hop speaks to me because it encourages me to think in a different way without being influenced by the establishment,” NE student Yousef Noor said. “Artists such as J. Cole [and] Kanye West have always made me feel like they understood my plight as a college kid.”

In West’s discography, he has shown an infatuation with subject matters that deal with school and education even titling some of his own projects in homage to education: The College Education, Late Registration, and Graduation.

“You know the kids gon’ act a fool / When you stop the programs for after-school / And they DCFS, some of ‘em dyslexic / They favorite 50-Cent song ’12 Questions,’” West said.

TR student Camryn Bryant said even though she got into West’s music sometime after the height of his career, the album still affected her by making college seem cool.

“Kanye made it cool for me not to like raps about killing and drug dealing, actually he has influenced some of my favorite artists such as Travis Scott and Kid Cudi,” Noor said.

South student Branden Sayarath entertained the idea that college kids are being targeted more as opposed to dropouts, drug dealers and gang members. If so, that would show the continuing growth of rap music into mainstream culture.

“It’s as if college kids are rap’s [new] footsoldiers,” Sayarath said.

New-school rapper J.Cole has directed most of his content at the beginning of his career towards the college audience, which is different compared to those who have come before him.  

“All late to class with fake passes / Living life in the fast lane, but ain’t passing /They dreaming, tryna be the next Jay-Z and Dame Dashes / I ain’t even open my book and it’s time to change classes,” J. Cole said on his breakthrough track “School Daze.”

Being one of the only rappers to have a college degree, J. Cole said his struggle to balance studying with his desire to become a rapper was difficult but hard-fought which makes him and rap music so relatable to students.

“J. Cole is just different from the rest,” NE student Cristin Enzor said. “He makes it cool to get good grades.”

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