Ohio State University’s School of Music is launching a hip-hop studies program this fall. “I think there’s been a shift in higher education in terms of what thinking about music is and what it might be,” said Michael Ibrahim, director of the School of Music. “We no longer want to have just a Western European focus. Ohio State’s mission is to give students a comprehensive education. For us to align with that, we want to do a better job with the music we study and teach.”
Jason Rawls and Stevie “Dr. View” Johnson have been hired as assistant professors to lead the new program. “Hip-hop is the now,” Dr. Rawls said. “The traditional European works are in the past and that’s not a bad thing. What I’m trying to get people to see is that bringing in hip-hop by no means takes anything away from the past. Hip-hop samples the past; it uses the past to inform the present and the future. And that’s powerful.” He has a doctorate in education from Ohio University and taught for 15 years in the public schools of Columbus, Ohio.
Most recently Dr. Johnson was the Nasir “Nas” Jones Hip-Hop Fellow at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Oklahoma. “Some people spend three, four, five years writing a book. By the time it’s published, that moment may have been missed,” he said. “Jason and I want to develop programs around digital creative projects that we can develop in the space of a day, a week, a month, and be able to give that to the masses. Things that speak to what’s happening today.”