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RELI 157/311 - Religion and Hip Hop Culture


The Religion and Hip Hop Course taught by Dr. Anthony B. Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies and Bernard “Bun B” Freeman, an original member of the legendary duo UGK, had a great semester. Bun B was the Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Religious Studies in Spring 2011, 2013 & 2015. 

“Should Rap Be in the Church?” Panel Discussion

On February 22, 2011 the HERE Project hosted a special evening meeting of the Religion and Hip Hop Culture class and a panel discussion on the topic "Should Rap Be in the Church?" at St. John's United Methodist Church (Downtown). This event was free and open to the public. Moderated by Bun B with panelists: Rudy Rasmus, Marlin Hall, Vaughaligan Walwyn (Von Won) Simon Cullins “DJ Revelation / Crazy C".


“The Ethics of Hip Hop” Panel Discussion

HERE Project hosted a second special evening meeting of the Religion and Hip Hop Culture class and a panel discussion on the topic "The Ethics of Hip Hop" at The Venueon April 12, 2011. This event was free and open to the public. Moderated by Bun B with panelists: Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, Trae, Malice (Clipse), Tre9.

Discussion with Russell Simmons

On April 14, 2011 Rice Campus was invited to a special session of the Religion and Hip Hop Class for a public discussion as Russell Simmons and Professor Bun B had a dialogue on Yoga and the Principles of Simmons book SUPER RICH: A Guide to Having It All Watch >

Comments from the Professors

African American cultural production has always served as a way to express attention to the ultimate questions of life:  Who are we?  Why are we?  Where are we?  What is the purpose of life?  One finds this in likely modes of cultural production like the spirituals, but the same sort of religiously inclined questions are found in the blues.  And more recently, a variety of genres of rap music address the same questions in important and insightful ways.  Religion is about more than church services, prayers, and the other easy markers.  On a more fundamental level, religion is really framed by deep wrestling with the questions listed above, and it is represented in our responses to these important life questions - whether this takes place in the formats and within institutions easily identified as Christian, etc., or not. My course, "Religion and Hip Hop Culture" explores the ways in which hip hop culture, particularly in the form of rap music, speaks to these important and religious questions of life meaning.  We don't simply look for these connections in obvious ways - lyrics that slap listeners with overt religious messages - but we also look at the intersections between rap music and religion in less likely formats.  After a class lecture given by Bun B, it was clear to me that his insights and expertise needed to be shared with Rice students beyond a one time visit to my class.  So, I invited him to co-teach the course with me.  Together we provide a deep and complex take on the intersections between rap music and religion.  Bun B's expertise and insights play a vital role.

~ Dr. Anthony B. Pinn 

I am truly excited and honored to co-teach a class with Dr. Pinn at Rice University, and thankful for the vision of the HERE Project. This golden opportunity allows Hip-Hop to contribute in ways never imagined, and for the academy to recognize the true cultural significance and contributions of Hip Hop artists. This class can help open doors to change the negative image and stereotypes of the abilities, knowledge, and social impact of all artists. As a Hip Hop artist, I have traveled the world and have a solid reputation for social activism, artistic abilities, business savvy, and my love for God, my   fans, family and the Port Arthur/Houston communities. When I gave the first lecture in Dr. Pinn?s class, I realized that my experiences as a Hip-Hop artist can serve as a valuable perspective for understanding religion and pop-culture. Rice students wanted to know my point of view, the dialogue we had was very engaging, and we could have talked for hours. So, it was only natural that a class would evolve from that lecture. Both Dr. Pinn and I, are driven with a standard of excellence that will ensure this class will provide Rice students with cutting-edge scholarship and "unconventional wisdom" in a changing world.

~ Bernard "Bun B" Freeman

Dr. Pinn & Bun B discuss Religion & Hip Hop course
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