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by Kendall Fisher | Fri., Jan. 20, 2017 10:52 AM
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ever wish you could dive a little deeper into the incendiary entity that is Kanye West? Well, now you can.
Professor Jeffrey McCune of Washington University just kicked off his newest course, "Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics," which he says will not praise nor bash the rapper, but rather focus on the rapper's impact on black culture.
McCune—an associate professor in the African and African-American Studies and the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies departments—explained the new course to Time, seeing it as a "good way to get students to connect issues of politics, race, gender, sexuality and culture."
"I always wanted to teach a course looking at black genius and the impossibility of black genius for the American public," McCune explained of his long term idea for the course. "We're always thought of as maybe being articulate or smart but not really genius."
He continued, "Hip-hop is a way to show our creative genius. Kanye really uses hip-hop as a vehicle to display all of his talents, albeit some better than others."
McCune says he understands the public's view on the controversial rapper, which is all the more reason to dive deeper into his character.
"Many people spend a lot of time talking about Kanye as a controversial and somewhat hot-headed figure," McCune said. "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," he continued, noting that it's also, "A healthy dose of confidence and investment in black excellence that translates to so many people, and young people in particular."
Not to mention, McCune explains that many of the rapper's most controversial moments actually "embodied multiple fears of black life"—like when he famously said former President George W. Bush didn't care about black people following Hurricane Katrina.
Thus, he's created a 14-week course with a syllabus that explores that notion with topics like: "Who is Kanye West and Why Is He in the Flashing Lights?" and "Touch the Sky, When the Aspirant Turns Genius" as well as "I Love Kanye, or How Critique Slips Into Hate."
Overall, Kanye is one of the biggest names in pop culture right now. So McCune asks, why not learn from his success?
"I knew my students had connections to Kanye. They're always referencing his music and performances and videos and fashion," McCune said. "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."
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