Around 1990, Emery Petchauer was exposed to De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. His life would never be the same.
Now — after 20 years spent in various hip-hop scenes as an artist, organizer and scholar — Dr. Petchauer has completed his first book examining the culture of hip-hop on college campuses. “Hip-Hop Culture in College Students’ Lives: Elements, Embodiment, and Higher Edutainment” will be released by Routledge Books this month.
“There’s been a lot of talk about hip-hop in education for a while, but most of the time it’s focused on how teachers use rap music in order to teach,” says Petchauer, who is currently a professor at Lincoln University in Philadelphia. “I wanted to look at the creative spaces where people create hip-hop and develop habits of body, habits of mind — and how they take those habits into educational environments. It’s a way to conceptualize and understand their education.”
Based on Petchauer’s doctoral thesis, “Hip-Hop Culture” examines the largely underground hip-hop scenes at three anonymous U.S. colleges located in Southern California, the Northeast and the South.
“I wasn’t focusing on students that just listened to hip-hop. I was interested in the kids that create and sustain hip-hop culture — these are MCs, dancers, DJs, graffiti writers and event organizers,” explains Petchauer. “Hip-hop has a tendency to co-opt the power of larger institutions in society and appropriate them for a different use. There’s an incredible amount of resources on college campuses that people involved with hip-hop can use to their advantage. College radio and rehearsal spaces have had this core relationship with hip-hop from the beginning.”