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"Hip-Hop Didn't Invent Anything. It Reinvented Everything." UCF Offers Certificate in the Business of Hip-Hop

Photo: Ben Wiens
Photo: Ben Wiens

One of the most popular classes on UCF’s campus is Professor C. Keith Harrison’s The Business of Hip-Hop Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This summer the class will become part of an undergraduate certificate program called Business of Hip-Hop Innovation and Creative Industries.

WMFE spoke with Harrison about how hip-hop has become integrated into the business world and what it can teach students about marketing and hustle. 

Read the full interview below.

Prieur: So what can students learn about business from hip-hop?

Harrison: Hip-hop is a trillion dollar industry right now. I mean, Dr. Dre signed a billion dollar deal for 3.2 billion. He and Jimmy Iovine for Beats by Dre head sets. Jay-Z and Puffy are close behind being billionaires.

It's gone from two tables and a microphone to two things. One thing, two things they learned out the gate are hip-hop is a brand in and of itself. But then it also is an influencer on other aspects of business, fashion and apparel, food and beverage, fan engagement, etc.

So we teach it as a center of a business but also how it can be ancillary and help grow other businesses.

Prieur: And what do you say to the naysayers if there are any?

Harrison: I'm just patient with the resistors. And you know, hip-hop crosses so many disciplines in the academy, theoretically, you know, art, communication, media studies.

If you look, I mean, look at just Google, how many campuses are teaching it since Howard University was the first in 1991.

But most of them are tied to social sciences, African-American studies, sociology, history. Which is great.

But we need to talk about the business part of it because you can't watch ten commercials in a row that aren't rapping, that don't have a hip-hop influencer, that don't use slang and lexicon and lingo like cheddar, or had a beef with or cool or fat or dope.

Prieur: Tell me a little bit about the new certificate program.

Harrison: There's stuff online about analytics. You know I even have an idea something with that for a class. It just. It's a DNA that's so unique.

So yes, excited about the potential of this. And I want to thank Dr. Ron Piccolo in Management. Dr. Cameron Ford we partner, you know we all have courses in there.

Dr. Fon Gordon in African-American studies.

Four courses that are outstanding. And what's nice is they're already on the books. Professor Bukstein teaches Intro to Sport Business. So those are the four courses. Two are face-to-face, two are online. And so they're very accessible. So any major, anybody can get the certificate, they do have to be a current student seeking a baccalaureate degree. That's the one thing. It's not a separate entity.

Yes, it's a way to teach creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation and I love Grandmaster Caz will actually be guest lecturing to my class next Thursday, and he's the frontrunner, one of the pioneers of hip-hop, and it's actually his lyrics in Rapper's Delight which I have on in the background.

So anyway, Caz has this great quote that I think says it all. It says hip-hop didn't invent anything. It reinvented everything.
Listen to the full conversation, by clicking on the clip at the top of the page.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.