Last week it was announced that GRAMMY-winning rapper Lupe Fiasco will be teaching a hip-hop-themed college course during the upcoming 2022-23 school semester at MIT. Not only does that sound pretty amazing on paper, but we also have complete confidence in the “Kick, Push” emcee’s seniority as a celebrated emcee to speak extensively on the genre and provide a real learning experience.
Of course, Lupe’s academic power move got our minds running wild with a few suggestions of other Black musicians who could properly pull off being a college professor.
As we continue to kick off Black Music Month, join us for some figurative fun while we cook up a curriculum with some of your favorite artists and historically Black colleges and universities in mind.
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The history of artist-in-residence programs is far from new, with many other award-winning musicians way before Lupe taking seasonal positions or establishing a limited tenure from jump. From Questlove’s well-known “Classic Albums” course at New York University to Kanye West’s surprising stint teaching fashion at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, it goes without saying that musicians can sometimes make the perfect mentors as well.
To go from streaming a respected music legend on a music app to listening them teach in-person during lecture hall is an unforgettable opportunity that we wish everyone had the luxury of experiencing. Thankfully, it doesn’t hurt to pretend!
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The 10 famous faces we chose for this list vary in age, gender, genre and influence overall. However, there’s no denying that each has something valuable to teach. We do this all in good fun, but maybe it’ll inspire you to start, resume or extend your real-life studies in higher learning!
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1. John Legend – Professor of Performing Arts, Virginia State University
Getting tutelage from a EGOT winner is an honor in itself, with Legend being able to talk at expert level on music, film, television and theatre simultaneously.
2. Patti LaBelle – Professor of Culinary Arts, Alabama State University
After already teaching a cooking class at the Boston Center for Adult Education, soul icon Patti LaBelle would make for a consummate chef that can also teach you how to hit a high note or two in-between recipes.
3. Buddy Guy – Professor of Music History, Morehouse College
Living legend Buddy Guy comes from an era of music where many of the sounds we commonly know today were being developed and created for the first time. At 85 years old, the celebrated guitarist’s knowledge on the game is elite beyond the telling of it.
4. Janelle Monáe – Professor of LGBTQ Studies, Clark Atlanta University
Monáe’s pride as a member of the LGBTQIA community is exactly the kind of perspective developing minds need during these vastly changing times. What better place to get the message across than at Clark Atlanta?
5. Chance The Rapper – Professor Of Independent Music Business, Dillard University
After already delivering a commencement speech to Dillard back in 2018, it would only be right for Chance to return as a professor to teach aspiring independent artists out there how he turned SoundCloud fame into GRAMMY gold and beyond.
6. Alicia Keys – Professor of Piano, Grambling State University
Of all the talents that pop superstar Alicia Keys possesses, her skills on a piano are easily the most recognizable. Teaching a new generation of pianists is something we think the “Girl On Fire” hitmaker would get a kick out of.
7. Anita Baker – Professor Of Vocal Performance, Central State University
We’d be remiss to not include a classic soul diva on the list! Anita Baker is one of the premiere queens of R&B that still can captivate an audience, as we saw her do effortlessly during a recent live performance. Using her downtime to give back some of that vocal prowess for developing singers at Central State, all while returning home to her native state of Ohio, would be sweet indeed.
8. Soulja Boy – Professor of Black Firsts, Florida A&M University
Ok, so clearly we’re being facetious on this one, but take a minute to imagine a college class taught by Soulja Boy regarding all-things Black people did first — many of which he probably accomplished himself, if you let him tell it. Easy A!
9. Queen Latifah – Professor of Women’s Studies & Gender Roles, Spelman College
As one of the pioneering women in rap, Queen Latifah has the experience of navigating a male-dominated industry and coming out on top. She’d be perfect to give the girls at Spelman some much-needed guidance on the subject.
10. Diddy – Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management, Howard University
Given his decades-spanning reign as a music mogul, Diddy would bring a vital business course to his alma mater at Howard that covers every aspect of his multifaceted career.