GOAL: For this first Rhetoric in Practice Exercise, you will rewrite Denny Hazen's lyrics so that they're more sensitive to cultural context.
NOTE: WRITE THIS RESPONSE IN A WORD DOCUMENT before you upload it to the discussion board on Canvas. This is standard practice so that you retain a copy of your work offline and also avoid losing work in progress if there is a glitch on Canvas.
PROMPT: Denny "Blazin'" Hazen is, as you already know if you've watched the Average Homeboy music video (Links to an external site.)(or visited his website (Links to an external site.)), not the most rhetorically sensitive dude. His song, "Average Homeboy," turns out to be problematic in a number of ways—especially in regards to his awareness of cultural and historical context.
In his song, Blazen sets up a dichotomy between himself (a white rapper with a middle-class lifestyle) and other rappers (black rappers who, according to him, are "raised in a box," "live on the street," "[do] crack," etc). By positioning every african american rapper this way, you could say he's leaning into some pretty damaging stereotypes about the african american communities depicted in rap music of the time.
Moreso, though, we can say that Blazin' Hazen's work misunderstands and disregards the purposes of political advocacy and street reportage that rap music served in the late 80s. In this article (Links to an external site.), which you should have already read, Billy Jam briefly traces the history of afrocentric rap music. If you've read it, you now know more about the historical/cultural context of rap in the 1980s, and the functions that it served as an art form with its roots in black culture. Your job is to help our friend Hazen out and make his song into something that won't cause people to want to punch him in the stomach. Here's your job:
STEP ONE: SELECT
Read the lyrics to the song. There are three verses, each separated by a "chorus" where a disturbing computer voice slurs the words "AVERRRAGE, HOOMEBUOY." Each verse has twelve lines. Choose one of these verses that you think is most insensitive to the cultural/historical context of the time. Copy this verse into a new word document and label it "ORIGINAL LYRICS."
STEP TWO: REMIX
Make a new heading that says "REMIXED LYRICS." Rewrite this twelve-line verse so that it's more sensitive to the cultural/historical context of the time, based on what you learned from Billy Jam, and also based on the fact that you're not a strange racist like Denny Hazen. If you want to do a bit more research about the historical/cultural context, you definitely can—but don't get too bogged down in it, as it's definitely not required. Have fun with this, and try to maintain the soul of the original song, but do the best job you can to make sure it's sensitive to context. This does NOT mean you need to mention/explain context to the audience! But, it does mean that the audience should be able to tell that you're aware of context and operating within the framework implied by that context.
STEP THREE: REFLECT
Make a new heading that says "Reflection." Write an analytical response of 250-400 words where you explain your remix of Hazen's lyrics. You should be patient and reference specific lines, explaining how they reflect a more thorough engagement with the cultural and historical context into which Denny was stepping.