Unique hip hop in education conference coming to Sheffield

An academic has teamed up with the former poet laureate of Sheffield to host a unique and free hip hop event.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 4:29 pm

The one-day online Hip Hop in Higher Education conference is open to the public and will take place on Thursday, July 15 from 9am to 6pm.

It has international interest and a dynamic line-up of performances, presentations and workshops across the five pillars of hip hop that are: MCing, DJing, breakdance, graffiti and knowledge.

Many participants are from or based in Sheffield including Nathan Geering, Dee Warburton and Manny Madriaga.

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Sheffield’s Poet Laureate Otis Mensah who will be performing during  Sheffield Makes Music event 2019, part of BBC Music Day.
Sheffield’s Poet Laureate Otis Mensah who will be performing during Sheffield Makes Music event 2019, part of BBC Music Day.

Dr Alex Mason, of Sheffield University, organised the event – which is one of the first of its kind in the country – with Otis Mensah, who was the city’s first ever poet laureate.

He said: “The conference has been quite a long time coming. I’ve been at university now for about 10 years – the University of Sheffield doing my BA, MA and PhD – and as an avid hip hop fan I found it quite frustrating that it didn’t seem to be taken very seriously not just at my own university but on a national level.

“I wanted to go to an event and be around people who understood the value of hip hop in the way I did and discuss ways that we could establish it more in higher education and some of the really important ideas that come out of hip hop culture.

“Because nothing existed that I could find, I decided to organise something myself and that’s how the conference came about – it was an act of frustration really.”

The UK is behind compared to places such as the USA in terms of hip hop in higher education but Dr Mason is hoping this will change.

He said: “To study hip hop is to become exposed to new ideas, different histories and different frameworks. It’s really important.

“Hip hop, particularly in the UK over the past five years, has been at the centre of everything in terms of the mainstream political scene and major social movements like Black Lives Matter, you have hip hop artists at the forefront of that and they are leaders of our cultural scene as well. With the huge following that hip hop has, I think people would be extremely interested in a course that revolves around hip hop.

“Hip hop is primarily and fundamentally an art form that comes from marginalised people, predominantly Black, working-class people, so by engaging with hip hop you are engaging with perspectives and histories of those who are typically marginalized from higher education and elsewhere.”

Dr Mason added: “We are really keen for people to attend who wouldn’t consider themselves to be academics or students, we really want this to be an event that includes the entire hip hop community. Both because we think it will be of interest to them but also because we want to get their thoughts and insights about hip hop and its relationship with higher education because we really do think that is an important relationship to build.”

To book a place and find out more, go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hip-hop-higher-education-conference-tickets-143569497231