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There’s a new course on jazz and hip-hop coming to New York University this fall, and it’ll be taught by no less an authority than Jonathan Davis, a.k.a. Kamaal Ibn John Fareed, a.k.a. Q-Tip. This is the first foray into teaching for the rapper, producer, DJ, prime mover behind legendary hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest and current artistic director of hip-hop at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Sharing instructional duties for the seven-class undergraduate course at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music (part of the Tisch School of the Arts) will be author, educator and regular JazzTimes contributor Ashley Kahn. Together, Q-Tip and Kahn will explore the historical connections between jazz and hip-hop on many levels—including the sociocultural, compositional, business and technological—from the 1970s to the present.
Appropriately, Q-Tip’s own work with A Tribe Called Quest will be examined in the course, along with that of the Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, Stetsasonic, Public Enemy, the Roots, Lauryn Hill and Kendrick Lamar, among others. In their ’80s and ’90s prime, A Tribe Called Quest not only sampled a bin full of classic jazz records but were also the first hip-hop act to record with a live jazz instrumentalist (Ron Carter, on their landmark 1991 album, The Low End Theory).
The NYU course will begin Sept. 5 and take place on Wednesdays through the fall semester. Besides learning about jazz and hip-hop’s shared history, students will work collaboratively under Q-Tip’s mentorship to create, refine and produce their own original musical work. “I couldn’t be more excited to share with the students what I know,” Q-Tip said in a statement, “and I look forward to them also teaching me. Teaching is an exchange of sharing and receiving for all involved.”