Dubbed 'Sociology of Hip Hop: Jay-Z,' the class focuses on how Hova fits into African-American culture and the world of business. As Dyson told Fox News, the MC is a fertile topic for discussion, given his relevance to such sociological subjects as race, gender and capitalism.
"It just happens to have an interesting object of engagement in Jay-Z -- and what better way to meet people where they are?" Dyson told Fox. "It's like Jesus talking to the woman at the well. You ask for a drink of water, then you get into some theological discussions."
Dyson has previously based courses around rapper Tupac Shakur and soul legend Marvin Gaye, and while he has the support of his department, some question whether Jay-Z warrants college-level analysis.
Writer, former 'Real World' cast member and onetime congressional hopeful Kevin Powell said students should consider the materialism and misogyny in Jigga's lyrics, Fox reports. University of Maryland assistant sociology professor Kris Marsh, meanwhile, worries that rappers "use poetic license" to distort inner-city life in hopes of selling records.
"We're not sure if it's fiction or real life," she told Fox. "It can be almost indistinguishable sometimes in hip-hop."
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