'Soundtrack of our lives': UNC-Chapel Hill program a nod to global impact of hip hop

Akilah Davis Image
Friday, August 11, 2023
UNC Chapel Hill program a nod to global impact of hip hop
For 50 years hip hop has made a global influence.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- For 50 years hip hop has made a global influence. Its reach has extended beyond music to clothing and reaching college campuses.

At UNC-Chapel Hill, university leaders recognize it as a form of self-expression. That's why the Carolina Hip Hop Institute was born three years ago.

"It connects with students where they are," said founder and program director Professor Mark Katz.

Since the program's start, some famous names have held workshops for the students. Perhaps the most famous name was the founding member of A Tribe Called Quest, Phife Dawg

"I would say it was a life-changing experience for the students. Also, it turned out he was a huge Carolina basketball fan," said Katz.

Hip Hop is a form of self-expression. Carolina Hip Hop Institute instructor Josh Rowsey values the program.

"Without a doubt, hip hop has been the soundtrack that guides our lives," he said. "It's not going anywhere anytime soon. It's an art form where I've learned to be my most authentic self."

The program has a beat lab that houses music equipment from turn tables to drum machines and synthesizers.

Student Justis Malker shared who influenced his love for hip hop.

ALSO SEE: Downtown Raleigh celebrates 50 years of Hip Hop on August 12

"It's got to be the North Carolina's own J. Cole," said Malker. "The realness. The rawness. The vulnerability."

It's not lost on them that hip hop continues to influence society today and North Carolina has become a focal point.

Dreamville is one of the largest outdoor music festivals hosted by Grammy award-winning and multi-platinum hip-hop artist J. Cole.

Over the years hip hop culture has produced many homegrown legends and we can't forget about Petey Pablo's North Carolina anthem "Raise Up."

As hip hop turns 50, we're all reminded how the genre continues to inspire the next generation of rappers.

"Now what's the deal man, didn't go to Hillman. Can't hip-hop actually live in Chapel Hill? Man, I've been finding a masterplan like every week off the top I might preach like sheesh," said Rowsey.