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Dr. Jocelyn Wilson speaks at the TEDxVirgianTech Talk about “The OUTKAST Imagination;” Photo: YouTube


In another episode of “Lyrics in the Classroom,” here we have a collegiate elective that throws trap music under the study lamp.

Trap music doesn’t always get a good wrap — with lyrics often dealing with violence, drugs and sexual exploitation. But Dr. Jocelyn Wilson, a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology and curator of the Four Four Beat Project, wants to raise awareness of the genre beyond the usual media headlines using the lyrics of Atlanta duo, Outkast.

“It’s a course that uses new metaphors for exploring contemporary rap music,” Wilson told HipHopDX about the course titled, “Exploring the Lyrics of Outkast and Trap Music to Explore Politics of Social Justice.”

Students enrolled in the course can expect plenty of exposure to lyrics of Outkast as well as other Southern acts such as Goodie Mob, UGK, Eightball & MJG, T.I., Jeezy, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, Future, Migos, 21 Savage, and Lil Yachty.

With a focus on trap music within the context of social issues, Wilson hopes to bring relevant issues to light, with of course some fun by stirring up the usual STEM offerings at Georgia Tech.

“Studying Hip Hop, particularly from the Atlanta perspective, we are able to explore trap as an ideology of self-determination, social justice, and civic engagement,” she said.

We haven’t had a look at Dr. Wilson’s syllabus, but as fans of Outkast, we agree that the duo’s catalog includes lines that are worth serious study; such revealing lyrics such as Big Boi‘s verse from “Ms. Jackson” in which he sheds his machismo in a moment of emotional tenderness:

Jealousy, infidelity, envy/Cheating to beating, envy and to the G they be the same thing

Or literally anything that has come out of the ATLiens brain of André 3000. Just the first four lines of his verse from “Git Up Git Out,” the group’s anthem to ambition and the difficulty of achieving dreams in the face of a social system that doesn’t cut any breaks, digs to the root of many complicated situations that exist in today’s world:

Y’all telling me that I need to get out and vote, huh. Why?
Ain’t nobody black running but crack-kers, so, why I got to register?
I thinking of better shit to do with my time
Never smelled aroma of diploma, but I write the deep ass rhymes

Overall, Outkast is dope. If any trap artist deserves an academic course, it’s the power duo of Big Boi and Andre. Watch Dr. Wilson’s TEDxVirgianTech Talk about “The OUTKAST Imagination” and listen to “Git Up Git Out” below.