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Chuck D First Artist-In-Residence for Program UCLA Hopes Will Make it a 'Leading Center for Hip-Hop Studies'

Courtesy of California African American Museum
Chuck D will be the first artist-in-residence for a program aimed at establishing UCLA as a "leading center for hip-hop studies."

Monday, the school's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies announced that the Public Enemy frontman will begin participating this week in a series of on-campus events that bring together artists and members of the community.

UCLA's Hip Hop Initiative will employ artist residencies, community engagement programs, a book series, an oral history and digital archive project, postdoctoral fellowships and more to amplify the voices of the medium the school identifies as "one of modern history's most powerful cultural movements and most visible symbols of contemporary Black performance and protest."

Anthropology professor H. Samy Alim, who is heading the initiative, has been working towards it for decades with his colleagues. UCLA says it builds on the wealth of hip-hop scholarship produced at UCLA and across institutes of higher education since the 1990s.

Courtesy UCLA
A sampling of books on hip-hop and Black culture by UCLA faculty members who will play an integral role in the new Hip Hop Initiative

"As we celebrate 50 years of hip-hop music and cultural history, the rigorous study of the culture offers us a wealth of intellectual insight into the massive social and political impact of Black music, Black history and Black people on global culture — from language, dance, visual art and fashion to electoral politics, political activism and more," Alim said.

Co-leading the initiative with Alim are Bunche Center assistant director Tabia Shawel and Samuel Lamontagne, a doctoral candidate in the department of ethnomusicology.

Lamontagne, whose dissertation reexamines Los Angeles' hip-hop history, said that with the launch of the initiative the school will become the first major West Coast destination for scholarly explorations of hip-hop culture.

"Our goal," he said, "is also to advance the legacy of UCLA by producing original, creative, public-facing, social justice–oriented work and building bridges between academia and the community by discussing the implications of scholarly research and how it can serve Black and brown communities in Los Angeles."

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