Talkin’ Shit: The History of Hip-Hop

Uncover the history of hip-hop liberals like to hide in a blanket of victimhood.

This course examines the origins and rise of one of the most prolific yet misunderstood forms of popular culture in American history.



Talkin’ Shit: The History of Hip-Hop

Instructor: Kamasi Hill
January 26, February 2, and February 9, 2021
8:30 PM Eastern / 5:30 PM Pacific
Each session will run between 2 and 2.5 hours

Each session will be recorded and immediately available for streaming for participants who are unable to attend a session

This course examines the origins and rise of one of the most prolific yet misunderstood forms of popular culture in American history. 

Throughout its rise from the streets of the South Bronx to global pre-eminence, hip-hop has consistently challenged the norms of “respectable” society with its relentless critique of authority and hierarchies, volatile discourse, and unabashed celebrations of material culture and the pleasures of the body.

This course will analyze hip-hop as an art form, dig into the content and impact of its artists and songs, explore its impact on society, and examine what it reveals about the culture and world we live in. 


Course Schedule

Session 1: Tuesday, January 26, 8:30 PM Eastern

  • Working-class culture in Jamaica and the United States
  • The history and culture of “toasts”
  • Post-Vietnam New York City and the rise of hip-hop before rap

Session 2: Tuesday, February 2, 8:30 PM Eastern

  • Hip-Hop as a response to black respectability, drugs, and religion during the Reagan Era
  • Lynne Cheney, Al Sharpton, feminists, and other enemies of hip-hop
  • The promise and limitations of “conscious” rap

Session 3: Tuesday, February 9, 8:30 PM Eastern

  • Gangsta Rap and the irony of the decline of violence
  • Sexual agency and the misplaced discourse around gender
  • Hip-hop in the 21st century and its transnational impact

Meet the Instructor

Kamasi Hill


Kamasi C. Hill is a historian, theologian, educator, art curator, and filmmaker. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, he attended Detroit public schools, graduated from Howard University, and received his PhD in religion from Northwestern University, where he specialized in the history of African-American religion and culture. He lives in Chicago and teaches U.S. and African-American history at Evanston Township High School. He has curated more than 300 pieces of original African and African American art, and work from his collection has been exhibited at the Museum of Science and Industry, DuSable Museum, and the University of Chicago. Kamasi also wrote, produced, and directed the documentary film Born in the Struggle, on the lives of children of black radical activists from the 1960s and 1970s.

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Video course

Full access to high quality video courses.

Office Hours

Speak one-on-one with the instructor via phone or video call

Social Learning

Participate in a course related social media network with others taking the course.