The Laboratory for Race & Popular Culture [RAP Lab] at the University of Colorado, Boulder is an interdisciplinary space for developing and exchanging ideas at the intersection of race and popular culture. We engage in active production of diversity — in research, in teaching, in outreach — rather than good natured discussion of it. Inspired by a natural sciences laboratory, the RAP Lab is experimental, project driven, and outward looking. We bring together students, faculty, and community leaders to work on collaborative and individual research, publications, archives, courses, community projects, and public events.
Pop Lyrics in the Classroom is an initiative designed to use pop songs to engage students in the study (and the love) of the language arts. It offers lesson plans and curricular modules suited for middle school and high school classrooms.
Check back here for sample classroom exercises and learning modules.
What happens to rap when it leaves the English language and finds expression in an entirely different tongue, as it did in post-Communist Poland in the mid-1990s? What happens to rap’s flow when it must be fitted to a tonal language like Mandarin that relies on precise pitches for intelligibility? These are the kinds of questions that animate the Global Rap Initiative. The Global Rap Initiative is an interdisciplinary, collaborative project aimed at understanding the currents of continuity and difference that define the art of rapping in different languages across the globe. It brings together artists and experts from all over the world to think about how MCs rap to a beat. The purpose of the Global Rap Initiative is: (1) to trace rap’s spread from an almost exclusively English language art form in the 1970s South Bronx to the thriving multilinguistic form that it is today, (2) to learn which sonic and linguistic aspects of rap are universal across language communities and which shift shape, (3) to look closely at several of rap’s global linguistic communities to understand better their relation to the English-language antecedent in the United States, and (4) to illuminate how non-English rap has influenced rap in English in this era of cultural globalization.