Michael Eric Dyson Speaks on the Soul of Hip Hop

by / May 26, 2014 video 53 Comments

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Michael Eric Dyson is known for being an academic, author, and radio host. He currently teaches sociology at Georgetown University, and he has written and edited 18 books on a variety of subjects.

Dyson was born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up there. He became an ordained minister at 19 and then did factory work to help support his family before entering Carson-Newman College. He earned his bachelor’s there, graduating magna cum laude. He then went on to earn his master’s and doctorate in religion from Princeton University.

Dyson has taught at a number of schools including Columbia University, DePaul University, and the University of North Carolina. His books have covered a range of topics that include Hurricane Katrina, hip-hop, and Malcolm X. Many people recognize Dyson for his time as a radio show host of The Michael Eric Dyson Show and commentator on NPR and CNN.

One of the subjects that has surfaced repeatedly in Dyson’s work, no matter what the medium, is hip-hop and its effect and relationship with the black community. His most recent contribution on the subject is his book “Know What I Mean? Reflections on Hip-Hop.” In the book, he discusses whether or not hip-hop actually harms those who listen to it Hip-hops vulgar and misogynistic lyrics have been the source of controversy for years.

Dyson argues that while something must be done to address the negativity, hip-hop at its core is, “about the brilliance of pavement poetry.” He also feels as though hip-hop has become a victim of it’s own success because commercial influences have morphed the genre into something very different than the moving and rhythmic poetry that it started out as. To hear more about Dyson’s book and his thoughts on the subject, check out the following Today Show interview Dyson recently did with Matt Lauer.

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