Though we hardly need another reason to think that Professor Tricia Rose is cool, she has once again reinforced the notion that actually showing up for lecture will reap rewards. Instead of lecturing this morning, she surprised class attendees of her Hip Hop Culture(s) class with up-and-coming rap artist and role model from New Orleans Dee-1. The first half of class consisted of an interview with the young LSU graduate from New Orleans East, followed by an exclusive performance of some of his more well-known songs.
During the interview, Dee-1 (né David Augustine Jr.) spoke about a variety of topics ranging from the state of employment, housing and education in New Orleans to the blurring of lines between person vs. persona in the rap game. He commented early on that he is a “rare exception” in that the education opportunities presented to him thanks to his self-sacrificing parents are unlike the norm in his home neighborhood. Knowing how the kids in his neighborhood grew up, Dee-1 strives to use hip hop as a platform for changing people’s lives for the better. He also mused about his stint as a middle school teacher after graduating from LSU before he decided to make hip hop his profession. Referring to the other teachers, he commented that even though he was the only teacher from the neighborhood, he appreciates all that people are doing to try and make a difference, saying,”You don’t have to be from the struggle to help the struggle, to change the struggle.” As Mr. Augustine, Dee-1 wanted to help impressionable kids learn the difference between reality and entertainment and to transform them into informed consumers of the music they listen to. He decided to “retire” from teaching when he realized that he could reach out to influence more people through lyrics than through teaching a small group of kids in the classroom.
Though he continuously has to resist pressure to “insert rap here” in predetermined hooks and backbeats produced by music labels, he is “excited about the challenge” of signing with an agency in the near future.
“I got street cred with Brown University, straight up!” -Dee-1