It's a class that's never been offered before at Rice University. So many students have signed up for Religion & Hip Hop Culture that the class sized has doubled to 250.
Rapper Wants to Bridge Gap Between Religion and Hip Hop
Part of the attraction is one of the teachers: Houston-area rapper Bun B. For the performer who is used to the limelight, he was actually a little nervous.
"Naturally there's a level of anxiety," Bun B said.
But Bun B could not pass up the chance to co-teach with Rice University Religious Studies Professor, Dr. Anthony Pinn.
"This is the perfect opportunity for 1: To bridge the gaps between religion and hip hop. 2: alter the perception of hip hop in the community and 3: enlighten people here on Rice University's grounds"
Making Sense of it All
"Get them to think in terms of religion as a basic orientation of life, the making of meaning in its most complex and fundamental way. Once you give them the vocabulary and opportunity to kind of think about religion along those lines and give them the opportunity and examples of how that sort of wrestling is presented in the lyrics, breaking, graffiti, the clothing, the students say, oh it makes sense," Dr. Pinn said.
This pair of instructors take their subject matter so seriously that media is not allowed inside during the class. They want to maintain the integrity of the subject.
"During the course of my career, religion does become an issue. When you make decisions as an artist, the kind of music that you make as an artist, the audience that you're making music for and it's a conversation that happens largely behind the scenes," Bun B said.
Rice Students Show Enthusiasm on the Topic
That conversation is now taking place at a prestigious college where a religion and hip hop culture class is definitely unusual.
"I'm a huge hip hop fan and the idea of getting a religious aspect on it is interesting in itself," sophmore Logan White said.
If you're thinking 250 students signed up for an easy 'A', think again.
"Easy 'A's are definitely not easy to come by, but I get the sense that anyone who takes this class for granted is going to be surprised."
Rice University senior Karina Martinez appreciates the material.
"The reading is basically a scientific history of the origins of hip hop and how it ties to modern day. It's very relevant. I feel it's a class I should take before I graduate," Martinez said. "I'm glad we're branching out to the wider Houston community bringing that part to Rice. I feel like the students themselves really don't go beyond the hedges so if you're bringing people inside we don't have to go out really."