Armstrong State University is now offering an upper-level English class on the band OutKast and Southern hip-hop.
“There are multiple conversations taking place about East Coast and West Coast iconic rappers in classrooms and across popular culture with little reference to southern iconic hip hop artists,” Regina Bradley, the professor teaching the course, said in an email. “I consider this class and my research an intervention to those conversations and proof that the South still got something to say.”
OutKast was born in Atlanta, and its artists, André 3000 and Big Boi, are known for their use of Atlanta slang and their discussion of life in the South. Armstrong’s new English class examines hip hop, Southern blackness and how these topics relate to race, class and culture.
In addition to reading the works of OutKast, students will also read several texts by Zandria Robinson, the Rhodes College professor who once claimed that “whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror.”
For their final exam, students will complete a “nerdy hip-hop review” that delves into the themes of an album of their choice.
Bradley said she’s teaching the class in part because pop culture is “a gateway for many students’ critical thinking skills.”
“It is unfortunate that popular culture is so quickly dismissed as a tool of learning,” she said. “In my time as a college professor, I’ve found that the most fruitful classes and conversations have stemmed from students’ investment in popular culture.”