Kendrick Lamar’s debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, has inspired a new English composition class at Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Georgia. The class, which alongside good kid, m.A.A.d city uses James Joyce, James Baldwin and Gwendolyn Brooks, as well as the 1991 movie Boyz N The Hood as its primary source of material, looks to examine works of literature that involve young people growing up in Dublin, New York, Chicago, and Compton/Los Angeles. 

According to the course goals, class aims to help students “become a better writer, a better reader, a better analyzer, a better person, and a better appreciator of the language of the street: Hip Hop.”

In an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, class instructor Adam Diehl spoke about the origins of the course and why he believes it’s important to cover the historical significance of an album so recently released.

Addressing the origins of the class, lecturer Diehl says he decided to focus on Kendrick’s good kid, m.A.A.d city because of the “complexity of its storytelling” and the “continuing focus on the city of his upbringing—Compton.”

“I was given the opportunity to create my own theme for the class,” Diehl says. “I decided to center the class on good kid, m.A.A.d city because I think Kendrick Lamar is the James Joyce of Hip Hop–i.e. in the complexity of his storytelling, in his knowledge of the canon, and in his continuing focus on the city of his upbringing—Compton. The course is a freshman composition course, so I am teaching these works (i.e. [James Joyce’s] A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Gwendolyn Brooks’ Selected Poems, James Baldwin’s Going to Meet the Man, Boyz N The Hood, and good kid, m.A.A.d city) in the context of writing a research paper about one of the issues involved in the texts (e.g. gang warfare, police brutality, racism, incarceration rates, human trafficking, etc.). The class will hopefully produce much discussion about the issues that Joyce/Baldwin/Brooks/Singleton/Lamar raise, and hopefully the content of the class will inspire students to find an outlet to bring some sanity to our own mad city–Augusta.” 

“Good Kid, Mad Cities” is the first class to use K.Dot’s debut album as its primary source of material and the first to study an album so recently released. Discussing such, instructor Diehl says the subject matter and ultimately the message of Kendrick’s 2012 album makes it “worthy of university status.” 

“The lasting historical influence of good kid, m.A.A.d city has yet to be determined, but the album surely has brought new listeners to the genre because of the curiosity surrounding its instant acclaim,” he says. “Hip Hop purists have even stopped pretending it’s E 1999 eternal and admitted that Kendrick is as good as his ‘Control’ verse claims. In choosing this album for inclusion in my course, I am making the claim that great Hip Hop albums deserve the level of academic analysis and discussion that has eluded many other classic LPs (to be fair, plenty of G.O.A.T. emcees have been addressed in academia, but the discussion of a particular album is very rare). The narrative complexity, the structure, the allusions, the subject matter, the characters, and most of all the message make good kid, m.A.A.d city worthy of university status. Hopefully my course will inspire other teachers at all levels to include modern masterpieces in their syllabi.” 

The “Good Kid, Mad Cities” class was slated to being today (August 19), with the final examination slated for December 11, 2014. 

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