Hip hop is increasingly being used as a teaching tool, a trend underscored in a recent exhibit on the decades-long history of the music genre at Virginia Tech.

“Hip hop reflects the ingenuity of working class, marginalized, and black and brown youth,” said Anthony “Kwame” Harrison, the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies. “Against all odds it’s established its presence in our most prestigious institutes of higher education, including Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, and Virginia Tech. We need to recognize this and celebrate it.”

 Harrison noted that hip hop can aid in experiential learning. The genre’s practice of using consumption as a stimulus for creative production, such as sampling old records to create new songs, is exactly what many instructors ask their students to do.

“Once students realize and embrace the parallels between hip hop and their college education, it can change their whole orientation to learning,” Harrison said. “Suddenly they find themselves gaining traction on topics that once didn’t interest them. And knowledge begets more knowledge.”