The University of Richmond is hosting a lecture and panel discussion examining hip hop as a social, political and artistic movement. Panelists include internationally known hip hop figures, including producer Hank Shocklee and Richmond-based artist Mad Skillz.

“Sampling Black History: Examining the Evolution of Hip Hop in America” is organized by the School of Professional and Continuing Studies associate professor of liberal arts Erik Nielson, a hip hop culture expert currently teaching a course on “The Voice of Hip Hop in America.”

Nielson will moderate a panel discussion that will include Mad Skillz, who will reflect on his career as a hip hop artist, rapper and producer, including his start at UR’s radio station and the evolution of hip hop over the last 30 years. Mad Skillz also is serving as the artist-in-residence for Nielson’s course, which is comprised of UR undergraduate and graduate students.

Shocklee, one of the preeminent figures of the rap world, will also serve as a panelist. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and GRAMMY Hall of Fame inductee, he is a founder of the seminal hip hop group Public Enemy and the production team, the Bomb Squad. Today he is a sought-after sound designer, film scorer and lecturer.

University of Richmond law professor Chris Cotropia will also serve on the panel to discuss the effect of copyright law on sampling and rap music generally.

“This discussion will take a deep dive into the evolving role of hip hop in today’s culture, including its role as a vehicle of political activism and grassroots organizing,” said Nielson. “The presence of Mad Skillz and Hank Shocklee, who are internationally known figures, speaks to the importance of this topic and the discussion we are having at UR.”

This event is Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Robins School of Business, Ukrop Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. This event is sponsored in part by the Department of Music and American Studies Program. The evening will close with an audience Q&A.

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Related Campus Units

School of Arts and Sciences

Associate Professor, Liberal Arts
Assistant Chair, Liberal Arts
Interim Chair, Liberal Arts (Fall 2017)