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For you final reading response, you will have the choice of responding to ONE of the questions below. Respond to ONE of the questions in 200-300 words. Your response should be in MLA Format (header, Times New Roman .12 font, double-spaced) and demonstrate analytical thinking about this week’s readings. Points to consider:


As early African American literature, the spirituals (spiritual songs you’ve studied earlier) forecast many of the themes and forms subsequent traditions would embody and sustain. Without the idioms and rhythms of the spirituals, there could well be no rap or hip-hop literature in the twenty-first century; without the spirituals’ transcendental elements, the literary legacy of protest literature could well be far more pessimistic, more myopic, less fervent or cogent. Themes such as migration, improvisation, hope, and despair wrap around each other and pervade black vernacular and musical traditions from the blues and jazz to hip hop.

Consider the black vernacular tradition in relation to the extent of poetic and musical traditions of the spirituals through blues, jazz, and rhythm and blues. The origins of rap and hip hop are not recent. Some say rap and hip-hop musical traditions developed during the 1970s heyday of break-dancing, but these musical traditions are rather centuries old with literary representation dating back to the antebellum period, which represents the longevity of the forms as well as the marvelous richness of all the vernacular traditions, enriched the more by ways they complement one another.

Question #1: A transitional period between rap and hip hop witnessed the rise of the “teacher rap” among musical artists. Lessons of hip hop lyrics generally focus on human development, increased political awareness, and resistance to various forms of oppression. Explain the ways in which the hip hop selections in your textbook represent the idea of “teacher rap.”

Question #2: Trace the confrontational and socially conscious origins of hip hop and R&B (Rhythm & Blues) back to earlier black vernacular traditions, especially in the (anti)heroic figures of early secular works, such as Br’er Rabbit, and the (sexual) bravado of many blues lyrics. What similarities do you see?

Question #3: Hip hop as contemporary urban folk poetry with its nuances of blues, jazz, and rap appeared early in the twentieth century, and is artistically woven throughout much of the Black Arts poetry. Urban folk poets of the 1960s advanced this art form, including Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, and others. Explain how the writings of urban folk poets represent elements of blues, jazz, rap, and hip hop.

Question #4: Support or refute the contention that the lyrics to the anthology selection by Queen Latifah place the artist in the same tradition of black womanhood as Giovanni, Sanchez, and other poets of the Black Arts movement. On what do you base your response? Create a profile of black womanhood from key characteristics of these authors’ texts.

Question #5: To what extent do you understand hip hop to have emerged from the Black Arts era? On what do you base your response?