UCF Business of HipHop Innovation & Creative Industries Certificate students stay in the spirit of the genre: innovate.
The first certificate of its kind allows students to work hand in hand with industry professionals, such as Fat Joe, DJ Khaled, Reggie Saunders of Jordan Brand and Bill Adler, founding director of Def Jam. Assignments include everything from writing educational raps to analyzing music videos with theory and data. This semester, MC Serch will join a class to break down the music video for 3rd Bass’ 1989 single “The Gas Face,” a provocative take on the commercial hip-hop crossover.
C. Keith “Doc” Harrison, who is the certificate program’s founding director and one of its faculty, has designed its four courses to connect topics ranging from the innovation and evolution of hip-hop to the management of sports businesses and the entrepreneurship. Its goal is to generate an elite group of business-savvy students who follow the tenants of the certificate: Think Different, Think Culturally, Think Globally and Move Forward.
Although the courses focus on hip-hop, the goal of the certificate is not necessarily to provide students with a pathway to work in the music, entertainment, or sports industries. It aims to challenge their way of thinking and approaching situations, and to encourage thinking on a global scale. The certificate flips the script of hip-hop’s typical use in academia as a vehicle for religious, sociological, humanities, or liberal arts learning by complementing these academic disciplines. The certificate program focuses on the business side of an industry that has been around since the 1970s and the impact it has had on music, entertainment and sports.
“Our goal is to make getting the certificate very, very selective,” says Harrison, who is a Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellow at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. “All four courses are quite rigorous, so our approach since launch has been to only keep the finish line for an elite group. We want it to be like becoming a professional athlete or performer (e.g. ballers) – among the top 1-5%.
By the end of the Spring 2023 semester, four students will have completed the certificate program. Since its creation, the marquee course of the certificate, SPB4023 – Business of HipHop Innovation and Entrepreneurshiphas filled each semester as students continue to show growing interest in certificate offerings.
One of the first to earn the certificate was Denis Perez, who says the program made him appreciate music even more and gave him an edge going forward.
“The certificate gave me perspective on the birth of the hip-hop industry,” says Perez. “Knowing about the beginnings of hip-hop and the major impacts it had made me appreciate it even more. This is such a unique opportunity. This is a great opportunity to diversify your portfolio and stand out to employers when looking for graduate school opportunities.
Harrison embeds industry professionals to show students how hip-hop and business connect.
Last semester, Grandmaster Caz, who has influenced artists like Jay-Z, LL Cool J and Will Smith, spoke to UCF students for the third time. More recently, his visit focused on the role of innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity in his career, as well as a rap tutorial for those in attendance.
In August, hip-hop turns 50e anniversary. In preparation, Harrison is planning a number of special guests and student moments to celebrate the past half-century at the intersection of music and business. Grandmaster Caz, Fat Joe, DJ Khaled, MC Serch, Adler and Saunders have all been invited to speak. Photographer Johnny Nunez will tell students about his career photographing some of the biggest names in the industry, including Jay-Z, NAS, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Beyonce, Drake, Justin Bieber and LeBron James.
UCF faculty members Scott Bukstein, associate lecturer in the undergraduate sports business management program, and Cameron Ford, associate professor of management and founding director of the UCF Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, lend their talents on the program as well as African and African-American speakers. studies. , which contribute to a course on the evolution of hip-hop. Harrison also enlisted help from outside Adler University, Brandon Martin, Tuma Basa and Saunders, all of whom work in and around the entertainment industry. Martin is athletic director for the University of Missouri-Kansas City; Basa is the Director of Black Music & Culture at YouTube. Basa was also the first guest speaker for the certificate in 2019.
UCF’s Center for Research and Education in Arts, Technology, and Entertainment (CREATE) is also an integral part of the certificate, providing both students and faculty. Stella Sung, Director of CREATE, and Ronald Hargrove, Assistant Instructor in Research Facilitation, helped Harrison create visual content for the certificate.
This summer, Harrison will release The Napkin: an annual report on college hip-hop programs online August 11. Started by Harrison, The napkin will focus on content that highlights positive news from around the world in higher education programs related to hip-hop and the genre. Contributors to The napkin include a recent UCF graduate and an ESPN+ secondary reporter Hannah Jo Groves ’22, current radio/television student Joshua Hammer and Adler. Groves graduated from UCF in 2022 with a major in journalism and a minor in sports business management.
Thanks to forward-thinking faculty, guest lecturers, and students, UCF’s Business of HipHop and Creative Industries certificate is poised to stay as long as hip-hop continues in the tradition of innovation and of cultural reinvention. . As Caz said, “Hip-hop didn’t invent anything, it reinvented everything.”
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