The Jump Off… "We Gon Do This Just Like Big Poppa Was Here”
This first theme of the course is named after one of the most popular songs on Lil Kim’s 2003 third album, La Bella Mafia. After severing ties with her former musical partners, Lil Kim returned with this album more confident and lyrically raw than ever before. This was also the album and time period that drew national attention for her when Greg Thomas, then at Syracuse University, taught a class about Kim’s language and rhetoric called "Hip-Hop Eshu: Queen B@#$H Lyricism 101." Conservatives across the country lost their minds when, of all things, Lil Kim attended a class session with Professor Thomas and his students; folk loudly proclaimed the content as too “degenerate” to have a place in colleges and universities today. Hold on to this memory and image of Lil Kim’s comeback and the belief that her style and content was worthy of close review and analysis in an English department because it will set a good tone for our course. Such responses to and the continued creativity surrounding Black Rhetoric today will be the focus of our course. When we talk about Black Language and Rhetoric, we are talking about Black bodies, deep historical memories, and the audacity to dream of freedom despite all else.
In these first days of the class, you are being asked to make a comeback also--- a comeback from all things that occupied your vacation--- and claim this classroom space as your own, as the place where you will create, imagine, and leave your mark! Let’s put it all on the line and out on the table in these early days of the course.
The components of theme 1: