99 Problems, But This Course Ain’t One: UTA Debuts Literature Class About Jay Z

Jay Z is already a force in the worlds of music, entertainment, fashion, and sports. Now it seems he's poised to take over the academic world, as well.

This semester, UT-Arlington debuted a literature course dedicated entirely to the hip hop mogul and businessman.

It's the brainchild of African American Literature and Digital Humanities professor, Dr. Kenton Rambsy, who believes history will look at Jay Z as one of the great literary minds of our time.

"Jay Z's music is poetry," said Rambsy. "It really makes sense to think about how he's changing the game in terms of what we think about when we call something literature."

During the class, students listen to Jay Z music, watch clips of Jay Z interviews, and have lengthy in-depth discussions about the meanings and cultural impacts of his songs and image.

"How do we collect information pertaining to Jay Z's lyrics pertaining to Jay Z's lyrics?" said Rambsy. "How many similes does he use? What types of metaphors does he use?"

"It's a different perspective and more interesting topic," said Ashley Foster, a freshman at UTA.

Foster is an architecture major, who needed to fulfill her English requirements. When she heard about the class, she was immediately intrigued.

"No, I didn't think they'd ever have a Jay Z class," she laughed. "But it was very interesting."

Having taken the class for several weeks now, she says it's one part of college that doesn't feel like the "Hard Knock Life".

"It's definitely more relevant to today's time," said Foster.

Rambsy says he's been pleasantly surprised by his students' reactions and engagement in the class. It was full shortly after students could sign up online and he had lengthy wait-list to get in.

"It's so cool to think about how his work has stood the test of time and is still inspiring students," said Rambsy.

He plans to teach the course once a year at UTA.

Colleagues at Howard University in Washington, DC caught wind of what he was doing and are bringing him there over the summer to help them develop similar classes.

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