NBC Cheers College Course on Rapper Jay-Z By Left-Wing Professor Michael Eric Dyson

On Friday's NBC Today, MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin gushed over a new class at Georgetown University taught by liberal professor Michael Eric Dyson: "Race, class, gender, culture, all things that would be covered in most sociology classes and they're covered in Michael Eric Dyson's as well, but the issues are examined in a way that uniquely appeals to college students."

Melvin touted how, "Jay-Z's street rhymes that became stage anthems are being taught at one of America's top schools." He promoted the course as serious education: "In the Georgetown University syllabus, it's called, 'The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Odyssey of Jay-Z.' For about 140 students twice a week it's 90 minutes of head bouncing and dissecting....Dyson uses Jay-Z's 2010 memoir 'Decoded' to break down lyrics, but maintains a traditional classroom, using articles, guest speakers, essays and exams."

Melvin did briefly acknowledge criticism of the class: "Learning at Georgetown is not cheap. Tuition costs are among the highest in the country. Some students say their parents wonder whether the class is worth it....Critics have also knocked the class, in part because of Jay-Z's occasional celebration of misogyny, like in this video from 2000 for 'Big Pimping.'"

However, Melvin left viewers with a positive impression of the course: "Not surprising, the class is wildly popular....Old school themes being taught in a new school way....For some, it's working." A sound bite was included of Dyson proclaiming: "I want students to understand, look, learning doesn't have to be boring. I'm trying to make the life of the mind sexy."

After the report, Melvin fawned over Dyson's celebrity status: "Jay-Z is currently touring the country and at his concert in D.C., he actually gave a shout-out to Dr. Dyson, which, as you might imagine, gave him a lot more street cred with his students, made him a lot more popular with those students."

At no time in the segment did Melvin identify Dyson as liberal or controversial. On Sunday's Meet the Press, Dyson attacked "the right wing" for exploiting "racist elements" of "paranoia and fear of what it might mean to see Obama have a second term."


Here is a full transcript of Melvin's December 2 report:

8:37AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Jay-Z has conquered the music and business worlds and now the Brooklyn-born rapper is leaving his mark on the classroom. NBC's Craig Melvin is here to explain. Craig, good morning, good to see you.

CRAIG MELVIN: Good to see you as well. This is your alma mater here, this is where you went to law school. Jay-Z has inspired a new course at Georgetown University. Race, class, gender, culture, all things that would be covered in most sociology classes and they're covered in Michael Eric Dyson's as well, but the issues are examined in a way that uniquely appeals to college students. This record-setting rapper and hip-hop icon has become a business tycoon and best-selling author. And now, Jay-Z's street rhymes that became stage anthems are being taught at one of America's top schools.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Hip Hop 101; College Course on Rapper Jay-Z]

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: "I'm from the murder capital, where we murder for capital."

MELVIN: In the Georgetown University syllabus, it's called, "The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Odyssey of Jay-Z." For about 140 students twice a week it's 90 minutes of head bouncing and dissecting.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: You have someone who kind of perpetuates the same impediments that were like imposed upon him.

MELVIN: Dr. Michael Eric Dyson has taught a course on hip-hop for the last 15 years. Jay-Z gives him a fresh angle.

DYSON: This is a way for our kids to explore a lot of the big ideas in sociology. "God forgive me for my brash delivery but I remember vividly what these streets did to me." And as a result of remembering what these streets did to me – to him – he's trying to make a connection with and a link to those people who are similarly suffering.

MELVIN: Dyson uses Jay-Z's 2010 memoir "Decoded" to break down lyrics, but maintains a traditional classroom, using articles, guest speakers, essays and exams.

DYSON: And we'll have your tests back for you as well, alright.

MELVIN: Not surprising, the class is wildly popular.

CHELSEA: Being somebody who grew up in a very similar circumstances, I'm allowed to kind of explore my own conditions.

MELVIN: Learning at Georgetown is not cheap. Tuition costs are among the highest in the country. Some students say their parents wonder whether the class is worth it.

NEHEMIAH: I would imagine the same as most parents, "We're paying so much for this. We want you to take classes that'll get you a great job. Why are wasting time on this?"

MELVIN: It's not just skeptical parents. Critics have also knocked the class, in part because of Jay-Z's occasional celebration of misogyny, like in this video from 2000 for "Big Pimping."

DYSON: Within hip-hop we're pointing out the misogyny to ridicule it, to criticize it, to ask where it comes from.

MELVIN: Old school themes being taught in a new school way.

DYSON: Well, I want students to understand, look, learning doesn't have to be boring. I'm trying to make the life of the mind sexy.        

MELVIN: For some, it's working.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT B: In class learned a lot about society that I've never been exposed to, probably will never be exposed to. And just another way of thinking about things.

MELVIN: Jay-Z is currently touring the country and at his concert in D.C., he actually gave a shout-out to Dr. Dyson, which, as you might imagine, gave him a lot more street cred with his students, made him a lot more popular with those students. We've put more of that conversation with Dr. Dyson on our website, Today.com.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Craig Melvin, thank you, an interesting story.

MELVIN: Thank you.

GUTHRIE: Appreciate it.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC