Introducing the king of
New York English teachers, Adam Diehl. This Georgia high school teacher’s class will be covering James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Joyce, and Kendrick Lamar. No lie, the kids get to study rap for English.
Diehl has even gone to compare Kendrick to James Joyce saying:
“I decided to center the class on Good kid, m.A.A.d city because I think Kendrick Lamar is the James Joyce of hip-hop, i.e. in the complexity of his storytelling, in his knowledge of the canon, and in his continuing focus on the city of his upbringing – Compton.”
If you think about it, this isn’t too much of a stretch. Of course Joyce is a little out of Kendrick’s league on the literature front. But Joyce’s work, like Kendrick’s, focusses around one city, although Joyce’s Compton is Dublin. Also one of Joyce’s most memorable quotes is “In the particular is contained the universal,” which is a notion that Lamar flexes to great effect when rapping about Compton. While not all of his listeners are actually familiar with Compton, the particulars, like money woes and Halle Berry’s form, are much more universal.
Oh, and what movie are they studying? Boyz n the Hood. Right now a lot of secondary schoolers will be showing more disdain for The Catcher in the Rye than usual.