Ellie Hisama

May 2011

As I write this review, I'm listening to a song by Eric B. & Rakim. Maybe Tupac or Biggie will come up next on shuffle. Hopefully they do, because these three STAPLES of hip-hop discourse were totally absent in this class. Instead, you'll be treated to the likes of Jamez, God-des & She, and the Alter Egos. You've heard of them too, right? I say that first part tongue-in-cheek, because there is definitely the presence of well known artists in the class. Eminem, Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Wu-Tang Clan all appear, and do so quite frequently. But 'frequent' must be dealt with as a relative term referring to when we actually DID listen to music. Because for a class called "Listening to Hip-Hop," there wasn't a whole lot of that going on. Each lecture was based on a reading or two, and sometimes a documentary. We would discuss the readings for essentially the whole class, making the whole 'listening' aspect in the background or non-existent. When we actually did a critical listening in-class (maybe once or twice), it was interesting, fresh, and actually enjoyable. I want to make sure that my review doesn't portray Prof. Hisama in a negative light, though. She is a very nice woman who just hasn't created - in my view - an overwhelmingly interesting syllabus. It's diverse, for sure, but it tends to skip over sections that one would think deserve more attention (ex. West Coast Rap got 1 or 2 classes, and never mentioned Tupac, N.W.A., etc.). Sections that seemed to get an incredible amount of attention were, I feel, lost on the class a little bit: Japanese/World Hip-Hop, Islamophobia in hip-hop, and two weeks actually devoted to music terminology and notation (why?). The tone of my review is overly negative, but I would still recommend the class. The negativity stems from my disappointment and (probably) too high of expectations. In the end, it's still a class that talks about hip-hop - that's better than 99% of the other classes you'll have as an option to fill an elective. I am also optimistic that Hisama is going to continually adjust and improve the course - we were asked for input and constructive criticisms pretty frequently as to how we might approach a topic or improve something. Oh, yea, the TA? 10/10. In many ways was she a 10.

May 2007

I really enjoyed Music Hum with Professor Hisama. Unfortunately, she only taught my section because of a last-minute illness, and likely will not teach it again, and go back to teaching grad level courses. She clearly knows a ton about music and is very passionate about it. She is also very friendly and extremely willing to work with students when they need help. Music is her life and work and that shows every class in her desire to expand the musical knowledge of her students. If she ever teaches Music Hum again, I would highly recommend her.