Faculty Publications

Coining Phrases for Dollars: Jay Z, Economic Literacy, and the Educational Implications of Hip-Hop’s Entrepreneurial Ethos

Document Type



Hip-Hop, Jay-Z

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy





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Previous research examining Hip-Hop and education has almost exclusively examined Hip-Hop’s connection to literacy and literary education, Morrell, 2002; Hill, 2009; Fisher, 2007 Lee & Majors, 2003). The paper examines the educational implications of Hip-Hip’s entrepreneurial ethos. This paper examines data collected over a five year period from 8th grade through four years of high school looking at the Hip-Hop practices of 12 youths in the group, “Bassline Entertainment.” Using the lyrics of Jay-Z as a thematic frame, this paper delineates the manner in which the entrepreneurial ethos of Hip-Hop helped convince these young artists of the relevance of a college education. This paper found that the educational relevance of Hip-Hop culture emerged from the fact that the youth were engaged in an entrepreneurial endeavor. In contrast to previous research on Hip-Hop and education which viewed the students’ texts as literary documents, the students of Bassline Entertainment perceived their Hip-Hop texts as commodities or commodified texts. Thus, the Hip-Hop lyrical and musical composition for the Bassline students was inherently incomplete. It was only complete once it was marketed or sold in the manner in which it gained access to an audience. Consequently, an additional and extended array of skills and competencies became relevant to the Bassline Students, persuasive letter-writing skills to intellectual property attorneys in order to get the samples on their CD’s cleared, web design and digital graphics to promote their music, event planning and promotion to create performance opportunities, as well as videography and film to create videos for their work. Within this framework, the extended skill development afforded by a college education became personally relevant to the Bassline artists. In the end, each of the members of the Bassline Entertainment group applied for and was accepted into a four-year post-secondary college or University.


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Original Publication Date