Hip-Hop Culture in College Students' Lives: Elements, Embodiment, and Higher Edutainment

Hip-Hop Culture in College Students' Lives: Elements, Embodiment, and Higher Edutainment

Hip-Hop Culture in College Students' Lives: Elements, Embodiment, and Higher Edutainment

Hip-Hop Culture in College Students' Lives: Elements, Embodiment, and Higher Edutainment


College campuses have become rich sites of hip-hop culture and knowledge production. Despite the attention that campus personnel and researchers have paid to student life, the field of higher education has often misunderstood the ways that hip-hop culture exists in college students' lives. Based upon in-depth interviews, observations of underground hip-hop spaces, and the author's own active roles in hop-hop communities, this book provides a rich portrait of how college students who create hip-hop--both male and female, and of multiple ethnicities--embody its principles and aesthetics on campuses across the United States. The book looks beyond rap music, school curricula, and urban adolescents to make the empirical argument that hip-hop has a deep cultural logic, habits of mind, and worldview components that students apply to teaching, learning, and living on campus.

Hip-Hop Culture in College Students' Lives provides critical insights for researchers and campus personnel working with college students, while pushing cultural observers to rethink the basic ways that people live hip-hop.


As a student affairs professional, I have always been interested in the myriad ways students find a sense of meaning and belonging on their respective college campuses. Decades of research indicates that through different groups, be they in or out of class, students find ways to connect to an institution through these groups. In fact, success of students is often linked to their membership in distinct groups, both those structured by the institution, as well as those that are organically generated by students.

Much of what we have studied refers to distinct groups that in many ways are visually identifiable. On many campuses, specific groups exist for students of color, especially on campuses where they are a numerical minority. These groups provide support for the students as well as a broader connection to the larger institution. In fact, the way they may view the institution is largely shaped by their membership in these identifiable groups, be they student unions (i.e., the Latino or Asian student union), or historically Black fraternities and sororities. The same phenomenon exists for students involved in athletics, debate, band, choir, or student government.

But does this same kind of dynamic exist on campuses through a cultural phenomenon like hip-hop? In this text, Hip-Hop Culture in College StudentsLives: Elements, Embodiment, and Higher Edutainment, Emery Petchauer provides examples from several institutions where this in fact happens. This study provides a glimpse into how hip-hop, which for today’s students has always been not just in existence but in fact mainstream, helps students make meaning of their college experience and environment.

While hip-hop is predominantly defined by its emergence as Black youth culture, it is now a global phenomenon that engages people from all races and all walks of life. In America, it is impossible to deny the impact hip-hop has had on our day-to-day lives. Our language is now peppered with words and phrases developed through hip-hop, some of which have now been adopted as official words in the English language. News anchors and talk show hosts routinely use the language or culture as an attempt to show relevancy with a broader audience. Corporate America is filled with hip-hop culture and music in its theme music and marketing campaigns. I would argue that it is almost impossible to escape hip-hop in our normal, daily operations.

So it comes as no surprise that college students in the 21st Century, the group that follows the original hip-hop generation (my generation), having grown up being inundated with hip-hop, come to college and find ways not only to continue their connection with the culture, but in fact, to expand how hip-hop . . .

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