In this course we will trace the development of hip hop style from its early days in the South Bronx to its enormous impact on all aspects of popular culture. What began as a form of expression for inner city youths has become central to notions of African American identity. By looking at lyrics, advertisements, films and television, we will analyze the ways in which hip hop and hip hop style both challenge and perpetuate specific stereotypes of African American culture and identity. We will also extend our exploration beyond African American culture and look at hip hop's influence in other communities. Students will be expected to come to class prepared to grapple with issues of class, gender, and race in a mature and rigorous way. We will not be discussing whether Naz has better lyrics than Jay-Z or whether 50 is more gangster than Ja Rule; rather, we will focus on the words and styles of these artists as significant expressions of cultural identity.