Hip Hop Fact Checking

The University of Calgary issued a press release about a linguistics researcher, Dr. Darin Howe, who is using hip hop to study African American vernacular English [AAVE]. The press release states, in part:

It’s rare to use the words ‘hip hop’ and ‘serious academic research’ in the same sentence…

Howe is believed to be the only academic in Canada and one of the few in the world to take a scholarly look at the language of hip hop.

A simple Google search for “hip hop” on academic web sites produces over a million hits. Right at the top is this bibliography. And a Google search for linguistics and hip hop produces 27,500 hits. Of those, 725 hits are from Canada! (Linguists seem to be doing more hip hop research than anthropologists. AnthroSource has only 101 hits.)

But what really bothers me about this press release isn’t so much the wildly inaccurate nature of its claims, but the notion that there is something intellectually daring about doing research on popular culture in this day and age. I mean, we are talking about a 1.5 billion dollar industry!

(via Nomadic Thoughts)

UPDATE: For some serious hip hop linguistics fact checking, see Benjamin Zimmer’s post over at Language Log.

3 thoughts on “Hip Hop Fact Checking

  1. Cheezz . . . what a bunch of maroons, as Bugs Bunny would say.

    I don’t know how far back we go, but Houston Baker published Rap and the Academy in 1993 (Chicago).

    I discussed hip hop in the last chapter of my book on music (Beethoven’s Anvil: Music in Mind and Culture, Basic 2001) and the reviewer for Nature wasted a part of his review complaining about it. He was a classical fiddle player. The guy didn’t seem to understand that it’s not our (the scholarly community) business to say whether or not it’s music, much less whether or not it’s good music. As the old story has it, of course it’s folk music. Did you ever hear cows play it?

  2. Let me defend the academic integrity of my countrymen and women. This is what happens when academia gets mixed with the popular media. Why on Earth would a university feel compelled to issue a press release concerning linguistics research? It all reminds me of cold fussion.

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