Wittenberg Professor Publishes Book Of Essays On Jay-Z, Takes Lead In Groundbreaking Arena Of Hip-Hop Studies
Published March 13, 2012
Springfield, Ohio– To Wittenberg University Assistant Professor of Philosophy Julius Bailey, hip hop is much more than a musical genre. It is an influential art form that has evolved into an important presentation of culture, led by a man dubbed the “Philosopher King” who is the inspiration for a groundbreaking new book edited by Bailey.
At a recent campus celebration of Jay-Z: Essays on Hip Hop’s Philosopher King, colleagues gathered to celebrate the book’s publication and recognize Bailey’s unique and important contributions to Wittenberg’s curriculum. The book includes 13 essays that Bailey says “address such topics as Jay-Z’s relevance to African American oral history, socially responsible hip hop and upward mobility in the African American community.”
Since his arrival at Wittenberg in 2010, Bailey said his faculty colleagues have encouraged his creativity and nurtured his educational and research pursuits. As a result, Wittenberg students have an interesting array of new academic opportunities, and Bailey has edited a book analyzing Jay-Z’s “musical, intellectual and cultural context,” a best-selling hip hop artist, record producer, entrepreneur and actor.
“Immediately upon my introduction to my Department of Philosophy colleagues, I found in them a cocoon of kindred spirits with active philosophical pedagogies,” said Bailey, who served as coordinator of philosophy and religion with the Department of Humanities at Central State University from 2008-10. “On a third floor of Hollenbeck Hall amongst a collegial cadre of historians, theologians and communicators, I have found an academic community for the first time in my sojourn as an academic.
“At a stage of my career where I am purposed toward legacy-building and justifying my existence in this world, Wittenberg has been the ideal space.”
Jay-Z, who was born Shawn Carter, has built an estimated net worth of more than $450 million, thanks to album sales topping 450 million worldwide, 13 Grammy Awards and a variety of business interests, including part-ownership of the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association and his work as CEO of Def Jam Recordings. With more No. 1 albums to his credit than any solo artist in the history of Billboard 200, Jay-Z transcends musical genres, and his rise to fame has mirrored the growing impact of hip hop as a whole.
That growth has Bailey, a former education spokesperson for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, excited about his future at Wittenberg. A guest on numerous radio and television shows as a social critic and education advisor in recent years, Bailey frequently speaks at colleges, community organizations and even prisons across the country. Wittenberg students benefit from his perspectives as the university joins a growing number across the country offering courses analyzing the role of hip hop in society.
“The task of enlightening bereft minds of students with great works and ideas, and educating to make lives more meaningful and successful becomes a professional negotiation and act of continual self-reflection — endemic to our vocation and not specific to the school at which we happen to teach or to a canon where others before us have genuflected,” Bailey said. “There are scores of other professors around the country who have been teaching and writing about hip hop in the academy for well over a decade, recognizing the educational value of the canon. Further philosophy has always allowed for the Socratic spaces of interchange and development, and I see my work in pragmatism and continuing a legacy set before me.”
Bailey’s research now centers on two tracks: hip hop pedagogy, which “provides a language and strategy for engaged dialogue within and outside of the classroom using the culture of hip hop as a point of departure,” and social liberalism, which provides “pragmatic approaches to the resisting of the ill-effects of powerlessness and lack of privilege within a perceived meritocracy.”
Bailey holds master’s degrees from Howard University and Harvard University and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.
Written By: Ryan Maurer