Prepping my rap and rock class at Montclair State

This summer, I’m teaching Cultural Significance of Rap and Rock at Montclair State University. It’s my first time teaching it, and it’s also the first time anyone has taught it completely online. The course is cross-listed under music and African-American studies. Here’s a draft of my syllabus, omitting details of the grading and such. I welcome your questions, comments and criticism.

Rap and Rock

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Hip-hop top 100

I was asked on Quora to give a list of my favorite hip-hop songs, because what better source is there than a forty-year-old white dad? (I am literally a mountain climber who plays the electric guitar.) I did grow up in New York City in the 80s, and I do love the music. But ultimately, I’m a tourist in this culture. For a more definitive survey, ask Questlove or someone. These are just songs that I like.


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One for the treble, two for the bass

I’ve been hearing this line in a lot of hip-hop songs: “One for the treble, two for the time” or “One for the treble, two for the bass” or some variation. I wanted to find out what everybody’s quoting. After some internet detective work, here’s what I’ve got.

The phrase is a play on the opening of Carl Perkins’ Blue Suede Shoes, as made famous by Elvis:

One for the money, two for the show
Three to get ready, now go, cat, go

For the hip-hop world, the main reference point seems to be Spoonie G’sSpoonin’ Rap” from 1979. Old school! Spoonie’s line is enigmatic in its meaning.

You say one for the treble, two for the time
Come on y’all, let’s rock the [whistle]

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