Last May, Chicago rap vet Lupe Fiasco announced that he’d be teaching a rap course at the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (M.I.T.) in the 2022-23 academic year as part of the M.L.K. Visiting Professor Program. In December, M.I.T. uploaded an overview of the course hosted by Fiasco entitled “Rap Theory & Practice: an Introduction.” The full 90-minute session, a preview of the full course before it launches in February, can be viewed above.
Fiasco’s lecture begins with a granular analysis of rap fundamentals before focusing on three songs. He starts with “Stan” by Eminem and offers insight into how it both activates and subverts notions of music we all know subconsciously, followed by brief summaries of Kendrick Lamar‘s “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” (“one of his greatest records,” Fiasco says), and his own track “Jonylah Forever” from 2018’s Drogas Wave, a song written to reimagine the life of six-month-old Jonylah Watkins, who was shot and killed in Chicago.
Towards the end of the lecture, Fiasco offers further insight into the upcoming course, available in person to students of M.I.T. “In the class, we’ll set up a theme,” he says. “We’ll say ‘Ok, we’re going to talk about surprise’… We’ll start with ‘Three Little Pigs’ and end with Kendrick Lamar.” Students who enroll will record a hip-hop EP as their final project (“You can talk about whatever you want,” Fiasco says. “The only thing I ask is that it rhyme and be to a beat.”) Anyone interested in the course’s syllabus will be able to view it online.