– Author Ben Westhoff has a new book, Dirty South, being released that explores the history of southern rap. It focuses not only on the music’s forefathers but also on a newer generation of artists, such as Lil Wayne, T.I., and Soulja Boy, who over the last decade have raised their region’s visibility to a national level. The book also sets out to correct some of the popular misconceptions about southern music, namely that the lyrics are simple. Westhoff conducted interviews with such luminaries as 8Ball and MJG, Big Boi, Scarface, and others. Chicago Review Press will be releasing the book in May.

– At Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus respect scholar and author Bryonn Bain will be teaching a class entitled “Hip Hop and Spoken Word.” Bain believes the teaching of Hip Hop in the classroom is vital because, as he says, “This is the verse of our time, just as Shakespeare wrote in the verse of his time. It is important for us to engage in a scholarly way in the language of each new generation.” The course will preface its examination of Hip Hop in a study of such important touchstones as the Harlem Renaissance and the spoken word movement of the 1960s.

– Nile Rodgers, one of the founders and leaders of Chic, has come out to reveal that he was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Chic was one of the most important and influential group of the 70s and 80s and their music was sampled on many untouchable Hip Hop classics from “Rapper’s Delight” to “Adventures on the Wheels of Steel” to “A Roller Skating Jam Called, ‘Saturdays’” and more. Rodgers’ announced his illness on his blog, stating, “On October 27, 2010, I found out I had aggressive cancer. In an instant, everything in my happy-music universe imploded. After consulting with numerous doctors, I decided to have radical surgery to try and remove the cancer in its entirety.” Our thoughts go out to Rodgers and his family.