Writing Rap: Hip-Hop Histories & Engaged Community Storytelling Practice

MUSI 3372 | Writing Rap: Hip-Hop Histories & Engaged Community Storytelling Practice 

This course focuses on the hip-hop cultural practice of writing rap. Though this practice is rarely devoid of a local context to which a lyricist is responding while crafting lyrics, this course will place significant emphasis on responding to the local environments of University of Virginia students as they explore the craft of writing raps.

It is not necessary that students have previous experience writing raps to take this course. Students will listen to, attempt to deconstruct, and evaluate a broad range of rap music while learning the basics of composing lyrics. Along with writing raps, students will learn songwriting techniques and some theoretical approaches to composing larger works such as a “mixtape” or “album” through examinations of music, criticism, and literature.  

Students enrolled in the course will also participate in open weekly discussion and cypher sessions in the rap lab (New Cabell Hall 398). Along with extending discussions from the classroom, the rap lab sessions will place emphasis on student collaboration and recording with classmates, the broader university community, and community partners. Students will work with community partners such as the Nine Pillars Hiphop Cultural Fest, Rugged Arts, and Albemarle High School. 

Professor A.D. Carson

Student Work

Article: Soundtrack to a Pandemic

When COVID-19 closed down in-person classes at UVA, A.D. Carson was ready to let his class opt out of their final project: making a full-length rap album together. His students, however, weren’t ready to give it up. Read more.

Related Links
Music Library in Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia
Music Library in Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia

Department of Music

The Music Department is the center of musical life at the University of Virginia and a vital part of the Charlottesville community. We offer students opportunities to study music performance, composition, technology, musicology, theory, and ethnomusicology.

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Students in the Rap Lab

Rap Lab at UVA

The Rap Lab at UVA is a collaborative hip-hop cypher space (for composing, recording, and editing) and classroom in the University of Virginia’s Department of Music, located in New Cabell Hall 398.

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