When I was at college studying English Literature, we were tasked with writing an essay arguing for the inclusion of a piece of literature, song or poem to be included in the literary canon. The western literary canon is a rather outdated collection of literature, music and art that scholars accept as the most important and influential when it comes to shaping western culture. Of course the canon is seen by most people as widely restrictive and noninclusive of work by authors and artists from different racial backgrounds and genders, as most of it’s included works have been created by white, European men (but really, what did you expect?)
My time at college was also the time where I really developed my love for hip hop and rap music. As a white girl who grew up on her Dad’s punk rock music, and her Mum’s eclectic mix of 80’s pop and Elvis, rap music was rather unknown territory for me back then. Around this time I had discovered a lot of rap artists, but my favorite had soon proved to be Jay-Z, arguably one of the most well known hip hop/rap artists since the 90’s when he first emerged onto the scene. Getting tasked with this essay at the time I was becoming obsessed with rap music was really a great way to explore and learn about the history of rap, how it came to be, and why I had suddenly fallen in love with it. I decided to do my essay about Jay-Z and his music, the meat of my argument being that rap music was poetry in another form and highly influential to a huge group of people.