Week 5: Black Power (Part II)


Reading guide

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This week we are exploring the Black Power movement’s influence on hip hop culture and rap, more specifically in the life and work of rapper Tupac Shakur.  As you complete the readings and watch the documentary, please keep the following in mind:

  • According to Dr. Kelley, what were the specific economic and work conditions in Los Angeles during the late 80s and early 90s?
  • What is the relationship between narrative realism and rap?
  • What did Tupac mean by “thug life”?
  • How did Tupac’s definition of “thug life” challenge stereotypes?
  • What does Dr. Pough mean when she says that “Afeni and Tupac embody the link between the Black Power movement and hip hop culture?”


Readings & Films

Complete readings and films and answer discussion questions by Wed @ noon. 

  • selection Preview the documentfrom Robin D.G. Kelley’s book Race Rebels : Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class (1996)
  • essay Preview the documentby Gwendolyn Pough from That’s the Joint: eds. Forman and Neal
  • documentary Tupac: Resurrection (2003)
  • (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4eJD_wQQD4)

Discussion questions:

  • In the documentary, Tupac introduces the idea of “thug life.” Please provide his specific definition and then address the following questions (answers do not have to be in order):
    • How does this definition support or challenge your previously held ideas about the concept?
    • How does Pough’s article help us understand the connection between Tupac and the Black Power movement, both literally and conceptually?
      • please use at least 2 quotes from the text to support your claim.
    • Using Kelley’s work, please provide at least two examples of the environmental/material conditions that influenced the rise of gangsta rap in Los Angeles during the 1990s. 
      • please use at least 1 quote from the text to support your claim.

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