CSUN’s Hip Hop Think Tank is a student-based organization on campus devoted to educating the public about the positive influence and importance that hip-hop can have on the community.
The HHTT focuses on bringing an academic view of hip-hop to students and the community. Karin Stanford, professor for the Pan-African Studies Department, and the faculty advisor for the HHTT, stresses the importance hip-hop can have academically.
“Hip-hop is an important phenomenon in our society and community, and it can be used as a basis for academic studies as well,” Stanford said.
The HHTT meets twice a week and discusses the ways hip-hop can be used to promote politics, culture and education. The HHTT has released two academic journals that discuss issues that stem from the negative influences that hip-hop can have.
CSUN students write the essays within the journal. The essay, “Feminism in Hip-Hop Culture,” written by Janise Randall, is about the power and influence that women have in music and the exploitation they suffer from the lyrical content of male artists. Rap poems are also included in the journal and deal with the many negative aspects that surround the hip-hop culture.
For the HHTT, it’s also important to show society how great hip-hop’s influence has, not only on music but culture and society. Moya Smith, member of the HHTT, would like members of the CSUN community to know about all of the aspects of hip-hop.
“Hip-hop is more than 50 Cent. It is something that can really be used to talk about what is going on,” Smith said. “People need to realize that there are more factors to hip-hop that make it a positive thing.”
The HHTT wants to change the common image people have of hip-hop.
HHTT member Marissa Bell said she believes in the academic power of hip-hop, and the positive possibilities that hip-hop can have.
“People need to open their eyes and see the potential that hip-hop has if it is put into the right hands and used as a right tool,” Bell said. “I think that hip-hop can be used to help people read by adding rhythmic patterns to books.”
The main mission of the HHTT is to change hip-hop’s unfavorable image and show ways of using hip-hop as an educational tool.
The HHTT believes that if the image can change and be used academically, the culture itself will change for the better.
“Everything has a problem, but everything can be turned around to have direction put to it,” Bell said.
The HHTT is not the only organization on campus that discusses the influence of hip-hop and the culture that it surrounds. The Pan-African Studies Department offers the Politics of Hip-Hop course.
The course is the first of its kind, and the Pan-African Studies Department is the first department to offer a hip-hop course.