Illinois Hip-Hop Collective

Open to all UIUC instrumentalists, rappers, vocalists, DJs, emcees, beatboxers, writers, composers, arrangers, dancers, videographers, audio engineers, producers, graffiti artists, and all other students interested in studying and performing hip hop, trip hop, R&B, dubstep, drum & bass, trap, jazz rap, salsa hop, rap metal, chillwave, gospel hip hop, and related genres. International students and rappers with foreign-language skills are highly encouraged to apply as we are eager to perform hip hop from around the world.

MUSC 459

MEETING TIMES: Enrolled students are divided into small ensembles or working groups of about 5-10 people. Meeting times are arranged according to students' schedules. Students often initiate their own projects, writing songs, arranging scores, and planning out performances.

HOW TO SIGN UP: Please go to this link and scroll to the bottom of the web page and fill out the application form (including a link to your video, audio clip, or art portfolio) and click "submit" at the bottom of the form. If you have questions, email Prof. Rudolf Haken at Course number for Freshmen is Music 199, Section HH, CRN: 46064. For students other than Freshmen the course number is Music 450, section HH, CRN: 51475Course is 1 credit. Final deadline for adding the course is the last add date set by the University of Illinois for any given semester - but earlier applications are greatly appreciated. Enrollment is “by consent of instructor”. After reviewing your application form and video/audio clip/art portfolio, Prof. Haken will email you with results.

COURSE OVERVIEW: Fall 2017 has been the initial rollout of this course, giving each of the 29 members an influence on its direction and scope. Students have been performing original material as well as covers.

Students may enroll for as many semesters as they choose. Enrollment for Spring 2018 will be open to new members as well. Pre-existing groups are very welcome. If you have a group of friends who have not yet worked together but are interested in doing so, let me know and I’ll put you together in an ensemble. The overall goal for the Collective is to produce videos, live shows, and podcasts that will incorporate rapping, singing, MC'ing, instrumental music, dancing, graffiti, video production (possibly including animation), and all aspects of hip hop culture. Community outreach, collaboration with local and Chicago-area hip hop artists, and visits to schools will be important components.

Given the wide range of backgrounds of participants, a great variety in levels of experience with, and approaches to, hip hop performance is to be expected. Some members come in being able to freestyle rap but not read sheet music, while others have extensive classical, jazz, or folk training with no hip hop experience. Bringing together disparate musical traditions and performing together takes resourcefulness and inventiveness, but results in some wonderful and unique music making.

Students new to the genre are provided with written-out sheet music for their specific instrument, while more experienced hip hop artists (and others accustomed to improvisation) will be given free rein. As with any kind of music, some will prefer to take an authentic approach, performing songs as closely to the original as possible, while others will go in the opposite direction: “deconstructing” the music, for example by reworking a hip hop song as a quartet for rapper, oboe, cello, and tabla, or reproducing electronic sounds on live instruments. Students will explore ways of using their instrumental skills to effectively perform genres of music they may never have previously played. For example, pianists might play keyboard drums, or orchestral musicians might reproduce dub drops and wobbles on their “classical” instruments.

Audio engineers provide audio support for performances and videos, balance acoustic and electric instruments and vocals, provide live feeds for podcasts, and generally troubleshoot electronics. Videographers and editors will have opportunities to create exciting and compelling videos and live podcasts.

As the director of the Hip Hop Collective, I make no pretense of being an expert in every aspect of the genre. Guest artists will be brought in to advise on specific artistic and technical issues, and among student participants there are likely to be several who have years of experience in hip hop and can help introduce others to this art form. Perhaps most importantly, we expect students to learn from each other, and as the director I expect to learn a great deal from students. I am in the process of collecting and arranging hip hop songs for “classical” instruments, as this is likely to be an important component of the course. Composers and arrangers make a great contribution to the course by transcribing music for a variety of instruments as well as electronic media.

Students are very welcome to choose repertoire or perform original material. We are interested in everything from the earliest hip hop from the late 70’s to the most current music, and the broadest range of styles and subgenres possible. Original material is always very welcome.