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Lupe Fiasco presents “Rap Theory & Practice: an Introduction”

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Lupe Fiasco, a Grammy-winning rapper and MIT visiting scholar, discusses rap theory and practice, emphasizing surprise and storytelling in music. He teaches a rap theory course at MIT and highlights the power of rap as a teaching tool. The evolution of hip-hop, the impact of storytelling in music creation, and the importance of intentional learning are explored. Fiasco encourages creativity in writing, mastering the basics, and building strong vocabularies. He also discusses creating unique album concepts, drawing inspiration from punk music, and incorporating diverse literary forms in classrooms. The video showcases the intersection of science and music through a rapper at MIT rapping about nuclear physics. Fiasco promotes diversity in rap music, supporting underground artists, and exploring unconventional topics beyond mainstream representations. He expresses gratitude to the audience, MIT staff, and faculty, and encourages students to engage in various activities and seek support during their tenure.

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📊 Transcript
Lupe Fiasco, Grammy award-winning rapper and activist, is a visiting scholar at MIT.
MIT offers a rich curriculum in media studies, writing, and literature, in addition to technical studies.
The campus is expanding with a new MIT Museum, MIT Press Bookstore, and Welcome Center.
Past events at MIT have featured artists like Haitian rapper Bic Roosevelt Sayant.
Lupe Fiasco's talk is eagerly awaited, with the audience encouraged to ask questions.
Lupe Fiasco shares his journey from high school talent shows to performing at MIT and Central Park, emphasizing the importance of education in his rap career.
He discusses his background in rap and how he learned in a school environment, leading him to teach at MIT.
Fiasco connects his teaching at MIT to his roots in learning rap in school.
He transitions to discussing rap theory and practice, encouraging audience participation in creating acronyms related to rap.
Development of an acronym for 'rap' or 'wraps'.
Participants share interpretations such as rhythm and poetry, rhymes and pacing, and bass beats and stories.
Focus on artistic power, style, and constantly revising and setting new rules for acronym development.
Original acronym 'Sosa' leads to creation of curriculum for investigating definition of rap, including rhetorical, anthropological, and philosophical structures.
Importance of Recognizing Analogous Patterns and Reconciling Adversarial Patterns.
Emphasis on the need for constant attention and alteration in various aspects of life.
Significance of defining concepts within their own terms and the process to achieve that.
Analogy of bodybuilders used to explain starting with general shape and gradually focusing on details.
Stress on the balance between big ideas and executing through detailed concepts.
Importance of micro decisions in shaping rap lyrics.
Stretching vowels and regulating tones have a significant impact on crafting impactful verses.
Small details play a crucial role in winning accolades such as Grammys.
The video explores the process of making micro decisions to enhance lyrical quality and create a unique flow.
Surprise is highlighted as a fundamental element in life and learning, contributing to personal growth and knowledge acquisition.
The impact of surprises on individuals and society.
Surprises influence attention, learning, memory, attitudes, and behavior in individuals.
People tend to share surprises with others, leading to larger social influences.
Stories with surprising elements degrade and change less over time.
Surprising information impacts memory, facilitates learning strategies, and induces systemic processing.
The power of rap as a teaching tool and its untapped potential for formal training and institutional recognition.
Despite many rappers lacking formal training, they have the ability to positively impact society through their craft.
Successful rap artists can increase their earnings, enjoy themselves more, attract followers, and generate viral content.
Surprise in music triggers unexpected schema and discrepant events, resulting in strong reactions and schema revision.
Unexpected events lead to automatic interruptions in mental processes, followed by intentional shifts and event analysis, with schemas serving as worldviews and cognitive frames for understanding surprise.
The segment explores how individuals perceive the world and pursue their purpose based on evolving schemas.
It stresses the significance of being mindful of one's experiences and interactions as they shape these schemas.
The power of storytelling in influencing behavior is highlighted, along with the impact of external influences on actions.
The concept of repetition break in plot structure is illustrated using the story of the Three Little Pigs.
Summary of Eminem's song "Stan"
The song depicts a fan named Stan who writes letters to Eminem expressing his admiration.
The third verse reveals Stan's dark plot of a murder-suicide involving his girlfriend.
Stan records a message to Eminem while kidnapping his girlfriend, showcasing his obsession.
The fourth verse breaks the song structure and adds depth to the narrative, showing the consequences of Stan's actions.
Eminem's songs Stan and Janayla showcase the power of rap in storytelling.
Stan, a cultural phenomenon, depicts Eminem's empathetic response to a fan.
Janayla's tragic story is transformed into a meaningful song by Eminem, highlighting the impact of real-life experiences on music creation.
The importance of personal narratives in music is emphasized through Eminem's storytelling.
The power of surprises in storytelling and creativity.
A woman saves a little girl in her neighborhood after hearing gunshots, leading to a cathartic experience.
Kendrick Lamar's song 'Sing About Me' is analyzed for its storytelling genius.
Emphasis on navigating surprises by approaching concepts from various angles.
Importance of collaboration, exploring different avenues for creativity, and looking at words or concepts from varied perspectives.
Overview of CMS S60 rap theory in practice course at MIT.
The course is open to undergrads from MIT, Harvard, Wellesley, and Mass Art.
The syllabus will be available for pre-registration soon.
Sessions will be open to the public, grad students, faculty, and staff.
Final project involves creating an EP and students are expected to rap and turn in assignments.
Discussion of 'Topics in Cognitive Science' journal and ER tournament organized by Society International.
Invitation to participate in a tournament at the black student union with a $250 prize.
Gratitude for audience attendance and opportunity for questions and feedback.
Tribute to Houston's hip-hop scene through the song 'Hip-Hop Saved My Life' and its impact on the speaker's life.
Highlighting the dichotomous balance brought by hip-hop music.
Emphasis on lifelong learning and expanding knowledge base.
Importance of exploring new subjects, even those initially disagreed with.
Speaker's experience in deep diving into diverse topics such as nuclear weapons and skateboarding.
Desire to continue learning and exploring new areas for personal growth.
Value of engaging in conversations and considering different perspectives for personal development.
Importance of intentional learning and application in life.
The speaker's album 'The Cool' was inspired by making harmful things uncool and good things cool.
The album was intentionally crafted to speak to history and resonate with listeners.
Influences like Miles Davis were drawn upon to create a thoughtful narrative in the music.
The speaker emphasizes the significance of intentional learning and implementation in artistic pursuits.
The segment explores the evolution and potential complacency of hip-hop as a genre.
Anticipation is high for a paradigm shift in the future of hip-hop, influenced by Ultraviolence.
Japanese hip-hop artists are discussed for their unique cultural contributions to the genre.
There is an overall sense of anticipation for the future evolution and adaptation of hip-hop.
Embracing the Creative Process
The speaker argues that writer's block is a myth and suggests taking breaks and seeking new experiences when feeling stuck.
Experimenting with words, stretching vowels, and deriving new meanings from language can help overcome creative blocks.
Writers are encouraged to focus on generating concepts rather than solely aiming for impressive writing.
The joy of novel ideas and the dopamine rush from creative inspiration are highlighted as key motivators for writers.
Importance of editing and refining writing for personal or commercial success.
Emphasize developing a strong foundation of knowledge and skills for creative freedom and expression.
Mastering the basics is key to excelling in any writing style or genre, providing a solid framework for growth.
Building a strong vocabulary is essential for effectively conveying ideas and emotions in writing.
Show appreciation for audience support and engagement in sharing insights and experiences.
Creating a strong and mysterious concept is essential when building a world or universe for an album.
Borrowing worlds from existing sources like songs or albums can provide inspiration for unique ideas.
Incorporating unique ideas is crucial for creating a connected system within the album's universe.
Time constraints and creative decisions play a significant role in the recording process of albums.
A work-in-progress record inspired by the life of Amy Winehouse as a battle rapper called 'Samurai' is mentioned.
Influence of punk music on live shows and use of inspiration from bands like Bad Brains and Joy Division.
Emphasis on the performative and aesthetic aspects of punk as a foundation for energetic performances.
Incorporating different types of poetry in classrooms to inspire young students aspiring to be like Lupe Fiasco.
Highlighting the need for teachers to embrace diverse literary forms to encourage students.
Importance of understanding doublethink in '1984' and using double entendres in writing raps.
Encouraging students to explore their passions and empowering them through teaching moments.
Recognizing the influence of storytelling techniques in music creation.
Emphasis on applying knowledge to existing skills and meeting students at their level.
Mention of Mr. Kendrick as a great teacher inspiring students to delve into their interests.
A rapper at MIT named Alex raps exclusively about nuclear physics, impressing the speaker with his talent and knowledge.
The speaker describes Alex as ridiculous, amazing, and phenomenal, currently working on a particle accelerator project while writing raps about it.
This unique approach to rap showcases the intersection of science and music.
It highlights the creativity and diversity within the field of rap music.
Diversity in the Rap Music Industry.
The speaker emphasizes the variety of rap music beyond mainstream representations.
Discovering underground rap artists through live performances and open mics is crucial.
Listeners are encouraged to explore beyond popular playlists to find unique and meaningful rap music.
Positive aspects of rap music include artists rapping about unconventional topics without using profanity, as well as valuable research on the relationship between hip-hop and societal issues.
Introduction of two boys from New Orleans and Chicago showcasing hip-hop and rap music in the Cambridge family.
Artist releases record 'God and Girls Too' for free or at $5,000 price, not on streams.
Artist involved in activities at Harvard next semester.
Speaker expresses gratitude to audience, MIT staff, and faculty, announces upcoming events.
Office hours for students mentioned for various activities, showing availability for help and support during their tenure.