New Urban Hip-Hop Academic Journal

My friend Phil, who is the former chair at the Second Baptist School and who is currently a visiting professor at Sam Houston State University, sent me information on a new and different type of peer-reviewed academic journal that is looking for scholarly works for publication. I am interested in the academic audience this journal is looking to capture; I suspect those who read it and look to publish in it come from a number of disciplines outside of just history. I can see those in the area of Black Studies, Gender Studies, Sociology, etc contributing to the success of this journal. Phil thought this would be a great place to submit my work on the 1980s. Because I address the origins of hip-hop culture a great deal, maybe my paper’s anthropological perspective on race and culture might be of interest to them.


The editorial staff of Words. Beats. Life: The Global Journal of Hip-Hop
Culture seeks high quality manuscripts, literature, poetry, book reviews and artwork for a general topic issue to be published in July 2010. We invite innovative submissions that consider hip-hop music and culture from a wide range of critical perspectives. In-depth studies of individual artists and texts are welcome. In particular, works from the fields of ethnomusicology, gender studies, interdisciplinary studies, cultural studies, technology and sociology are encouraged. We also accept research on areas that influence our work as academics, including hip-hop pedagogy and curriculum, as well as the place of hip-hop studies in the university. Additionally, Words. Beats.  Life welcomes provocative essays that will stimulate thought on the current and future role of hip-hop culture and music in the 21st century.

Words. Beats. Life: The Global Journal of Hip-Hop Culture is a
peer-reviewed, hybrid periodical of art and hip-hop studies published by the 501(c)(3) non-profit, Words Beats & Life, Inc. The Journal is committed to nurturing and showcasing the creative talents and expertise of the field in a layout that is uniquely hip-hop inspired. We publish issues twice a year with the intention of serving as a platform where the work of scholars and artists can appear in dialogue with one another. Since 2002, Words. Beats. Life has devoted its pages to both emerging and established intellectuals and artists. As the premier resource for hip-hop theory and practice, we hope that the scholarship we publish will serve as a resource for the field of hip-hop studies and the work of hip-hop non-profits, helping each to elevate to the next phase of their respective growth in America and around the globe.

After reading what this publication is looking for, I suspect much of what I teach and discuss might be of use. As my paper mentions,  it was during the eighties and early nineties that  America was in a struggle to define its intellectual and spiritual identity. The nation had clearly moved in a more conservative direction during the Reagan-Bush years. I recall the eighties being a period of heightened racial tension, as neighborhoods continued to become even more segregated due to the lack of economic opportunities for both poor whites and ethnic/ racial minorities. This was very clear to me at a young age when my family moved from Limestone, Maine to Montgomery, Alabama – one of the more segregated cities in the country. However, race was not the only “cultural force” at work. Americans still did not understand the origins of AIDS, as many ignorant of this terrible disease prejudiced by the realities of modern day relationships assumed it was a gay only disease. Moreover, the eighties was the decade that first introduced gangster rap, a form of realist genre that illustrated the harsh realities of black and Latino urban life, which was amply portrayed in the movie Colors, staring Sean Penn and musically produced by Ice-T.

Furthermore, urban life was not the only thing impacted by Americans’ heightened anxiety over the Cold War. Although teenage sex and pregnancy were nothing new, the eighties witnessed the advertised manifestation of suburban teen pregnancy and underage drinking. Those events led some to fix the blame of poor parenting on the educational curriculum found in both pre-collegiate and collegiate institutions. The stage was set for some “actors” to usher their concerns by trying to regulate what was being taught in schools. Fortunately for colleges and universities, they were somewhat removed from government micromanagement of their research and teaching; unfortunately, secondary schools were not so fortunate. While many public schools were offering courses such as sex education and parenting, others were debating the merit of what “content” should be taught and which books should be read. I am always amazed when people ask me if I teach the “right” kind of history. Here is my answer: I teach it the way it should be taught — the truthful way.

Going back to the quasi-radical shift of the sixties, many universities started offering courses that addressed many social issues. The academy saw the emergence of Gay, Lesbian, and Queer theory transform scholarship as it worked its way into the curriculum. Gender Studies as well as the emergence of Black Studies departments emerged. With the advent of school desegregation, the growth of co-educational institutions, and Affirmative Action, America’s traditional school curriculum was being transformed by voices that were once silent. To combat this transition, a number of sectarian and nonsectarian schools emerged to educate students on topics that did not address societal contradictions.


3 thoughts on “New Urban Hip-Hop Academic Journal

  1. I did hear about this journal. Tell me how it works out. Also, what are your thoughts on the reality of elitism in military society during the 1980s? We are having this debate on my campus now.

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