Students in one of Regina Bradley’s upper level English courses will take a scholarly look at landmark Southern hip-hop duo Outkast.
“My areas of interest are African-American literature and popular culture,” said Bradley, a professor in Armstrong State University’s Languages, Literature and Philosophy department. “I try to find ways to connect those… Often, students get most of their information, their outlook from how they engage in popular culture.”
Bradley, who has a Ph.D. and was a Nasir Jones hip-hop fellow at Harvard University’s Hiphop Archive; Research Institute, said the course will concentrating on how Outkast’s “ideas about the South and southernness seep into other Southern writers.” End-to-end, students will hear and examine Outkast’s records as well as others in the genre and will examine contemporary movements like Black Lives Matter and how hip-hop can be used in a political aspect.
“Their final project is doing a paper that’s 12-15 pages … for what I call a ‘nerdy hip-hop review,’” Bradley said. “They’ll take an album of their choice — preferably an Outkast album — and give a discussion of the themes and what they hear.”
The course expands on her passion project: a future book about Outkast, her favorite hip-hop group. Bradley moved to South Georgia as a teenager, and Outkast was her introduction to a burgeoning Southern hip-hop scene in the 1990s that was largely rooted in Atlanta.
Outkast has known connections to Savannah. Big Boi was born here, and Outkast’s third album, “Aquemini,” features a track called “West Savannah” which reference’s several locations in the city. The rapper brought his Big Kidz Foundation to Savannah High for an event in 2010, occasionally mentions his hometown on social media and filmed a music video here for his 2010 debut solo album, “Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty.”
Big Boi read an article about the course publicized by Armstrong’s student newspaper, The Inkwell, and shared it on Facebook before telling Atlanta’s Creative Loafing: “I am originally from Savannah, and I remember Armstrong, so that is just super dope.” Reading that, Bradley said, made her day.
“For the folks who are just as in love with Outkast as I am, I also want them to feel like they can contribute to the class — that’s particularly important,” Bradley said. “I also don’t want to overlook or shun the folks who aren’t familiar with hip-hop at all. I’m pretty sure I have a couple of folks in there who have no clue who Outkast is or don’t listen to hip-hop at all, which is why they’re there — they want to learn something different.”
As expected the course is full.