NYU professors explore Trap, Dancehall and Bounce

Professor Jacqueline Bishop and Dr. Kaia Shivers are teaching a course that looks at three musical genres dominating the music industry.

NYU Liberal Studies professors designed the first course that seriously interrogates the complicated and culturally rich musical genres often overlooked in the Academy: Trap, Dancehall and Bounce music.

Trap, Dancehall and Bounce are highly popular musical genres emerging from peoples in the African diaspora. While Diasporans offer profoundly robust cultural material to the world, they have been politically and economically situated at the margins for generations. Moreover, the newer musical genres coming out of the African diaspora have not, for the most part, been the subject of sustained critical enquiry, yet and still, their cultural currency is employed and performed around the world.

“The interesting thing to me about trap, dancehall and bounce is the ways in which they are most popular in American music . . . and outside the U.S. as well. But, what is even more interesting is that these genres are the most stigmatized,” said Professor Jacqueline Bishop who is an award-winning writer, visual artist and art historian born and raised in Jamaica, but has lived for many years in New York City.

“This is an opportunity to give voice and space in the academy to really intellectually dive into the political-economics, and the social aspects of these genres and their influences and meanings,” expressed Dr. Shivers, a writer and media studies scholar who lived in Atlanta, but worked as an entertainment journalist in her hometown of Los Angeles.

Prof. Bishop and Dr. Shivers came up with the idea of teaching a course focusing on trap, dancehall and bounce after extensive discussions of the genres and their impacts on the cultural landscape of the world. Developed during the pandemic, while Prof. Bishop was on an NYU teaching assignment in London, and Dr. Shivers, who was teaching at NYU’s Florence, Italy campus, the two Black women professors agreed that there needed to be a deeper and more nuanced interrogation of the musical genres.

From Migos to Mannie Fresh, and back to Spice and Buju Banton then to Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion and Big Freedia, the two professors work to cover a range of music, performers’ social media presence and the climate in which these genres emerge and dominate.

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