By Robyn Collins
Rap mogul Kanye West has his own college course. Washington University students can now sign up for“Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics.”
But even if you’re a student at the school, you’ll probably still have trouble getting in; The course, which will be taught to 75 students, already has a wait list. “Politics of Kanye West” will be taught by Dr. Jeffrey McCune, an associate professor in the African and African-American Studies and the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies departments.
McCune told the Post-Dispatch, “I always wanted to teach a course looking at black genius and the impossibility of black genius for the American public. We’re always thought of as maybe being articulate or smart but not really genius.”
Georgia State University offered a Kanye course in 2015. University of Missouri in 2014 focused on West and Jay Z.
McCune sees this course as a “good way to get students to connect issues of politics, race, gender, sexuality and culture,” and plans to structure the course on the rapper, producer and fashion designer.
“Hip-hop is a way to show our creative genius,” he says. “Kanye really uses hip-hop as a vehicle to display all of his talents, albeit some better than others.”
McCune thought now was the right time to start the course. “Many people spend a lot of time talking about Kanye as a controversial and somewhat hot-headed figure,” he says. “They’re very interested in Kanye West as a source of personality. Throughout his career, he has always interested me—his sense of black excellence, his belief that we have within us the capacity for greatness. I know for Kanye that has translated as narcissism and arrogance.”
But, he adds, there’s also “a healthy dose of confidence and investment in black excellence that translates to so many people, and young people in particular. I knew my students had connections to Kanye. They’re always referencing his music and performances and videos and fashion. What better time than now to take seriously Kanye West as a cultural icon? I’m always interested in how he’s pushing whatever boundaries.”