Duke Holds Global Hip-Hop Festival Feb. 17-22

Activities include scholarly lectures, concerts, spoken word performances and breakdancing

DURHAM, N.C. - Hip-hop band Dilated Peoples, deejays and music industry professionals will share the stage with scholars of global hip-hop culture in a weeklong event at Duke University Feb. 17-22.

"Hip Hop Global Flows" will combine performances with scholarly exploration of hip hop, including Asian-American music, racial and gender stereotypes and the politics of Japanese hip hop.

Events include lectures, films, spoken word performances, music and breakdancing and will conclude with a house party and deejay battle.

They will highlight hip-hop culture's cross-racial, intergenerational, multi-ethnic and international character.

California deejay Davy D. will address "The Politics of Hip Hop" in a panel discussion Feb. 21. That evening the band Dilated Peoples will perform at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro.

The hip-hop event came about because scholars in Asian and Asian-American Studies, African and African-American Studies and the Department of Music were interested in examining hip hop, but they didn't want simply to hold an academic conference, said Anne Allison, co-director of the Center for Asian and Asian American Studies.

"None of us just wanted to do speakers and talking heads," she said. "Most people will think, 'Duke? Hip hop? The two don't go together.' It's crossing boundaries in interesting, provocative ways."

Even the term hip hop is hard to define, said Anthony Kelley, an assistant professor of composition at Duke who has studied the history of the music. It's used to refer to styles of clothing, speaking and dancing as well as the music itself.

"A whole new way of thinking about instrumental music has grown out of this," he said. "When does that scratch become a musical form? That's where my interest as a musician enters."

Kelley and fellow music professor Jane Hawkins said they think the events will be interesting, illuminating -- and fun.

"Mixing all these talks with deejay battles and film, I think it's fabulous," said Hawkins, a classical pianist.

Allison, an anthropologist who studies popular culture in Japan, said some of the lectures will address the global popularity of hip hop, particularly in Asian countries.

"It's really big in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, China and Singapore," she said. The music's global reach raises the question of whether it's a subculture that appeals to disenfranchised young people worldwide.

Academic experts will examine Asian-American and Japanese hip hop as well as the historical development of the musical form and the commercialization of hip hop culture. Other experts will address gender and misogyny; racial stereotypes; and politics and celebrity status.

All events except the performance at the Cat's Cradle are free and open to the public. Tickets to see Dilated Peoples, along with local artists Little Brother and D.J. Seoul are $18 in advance and $20 the day of the show. Call (919) 967-9053.

For a complete schedule of events, including locations, times and maps, click here. Anne Allison can be reached for additional comment at (919) 681-6257 or e-mail at anne.allison@duke.edu or Jane Hawkins at 660-3322 or e-mail at jhr@acpub.duke.edu.