Featured, Interview, Music, Pop Culture, Race & Politics

An Interview with Dr. Regina Bradley, Who Teaches A Class On Outkast

As Black folks continue to do awesome things, we will continue to highlight Black folks doing awesome things. Today is one of those days. Everybody, please turn your books to the Book of Outkast, chapter 2, verse 1, and let’s put our hands together for Dr. Regina Bradley, Ph.D.

PJ: I was up on Facebook the other night, scrolling through random posts about random things when I saw an article from Savannah Now entitled, “Savannah college professor offers course on Outkast, hip hop genre” and my interests were piqued. I read the article and thought it was such a cool idea, especially in this time of using pop culture figures like Beyonce, Tupac, etc as centerpieces for classes. I want to talk about the whole shebang, but first, tell me (and us) a little bit about yourself and your background. Who is Regina Bradley, Ph.D.?

RB: I’m Dr. Regina N. Bradley. I’m from the Southside of Albany, GA where my Daddy and grandparents raised me. I teach African American Literature, Popular Culture, and Hip Hop at Armstrong State University in Savannah, GA. So…basically all black everything. Specifically, all southern black everythang. This past year I was also a Nasir Jones  (yeah, had to use the government name) Hip Hop Fellow at Harvard. Ahem. Haaaaah-vud.

PJ: I’ve heard of the Nas Hip Hop fellow program but know nothing about it. What does that experience entail and what was that like?

RB: Harvard was amazing. The Nas Fellowship is for those lucky few who show exceptional academic or creative contributions to hip hop culture and studies. I went for the Spring semester and was on the academic side of things writing this OutKast book Chronicling Stankonia, so I spent most of my day building my writing playlist, writing, reading, checking social media, and chopping it up with amazing and smart ass people who helped me get my shit together for this book like Skip Gates and Marcyliena Morgan. Oh. And I got to hear Toni Morrison lecture 50 leven times. Okay. Not 50 leven. Just three. But still. MY LIFE. It was made!

My Nas Fellow cohort was special because we all were putting in work connecting hip hop to the South. Shouts to my kinfolk Dr. Bettina Love and Dasan Ahanu. We did that.

PJ: Well that sounds awesome. And congratulations on being a fellow!

Alright, let’s get into some of that good Pimp Trick Gangsta Clique stuff. Let’s start at the top and work our way into the nitty gritty. Why does Outkast resonate with you enough to both write a book AND teach a class on them? Outkast is my favorite group, so we’re clearly kinfolk, but I’m curious about your personal reflections on the group.

RB: Pimp Trick Gangsta Click gone be that PHI.

I moved to Albany at 14 right before starting high school. New kid, new growth spurt, involuntary high waters, and no damn self-esteem. I thought my way in to make new friends would be to show I could listen to the radio and make fire ass mixtapes. But Albany folks weren’t listening to the same things as the folks up in the DMV (I had to put folks on game with that GoGo, but I digress). They were listening to 3 6 Mafia, Goodie Mob, UGK, folks like that. I had to literally retrain my ear to pick up on the accents, the different touchstones for how they did hip hop down here. I learned quick it was too damn hot for Timbs. Ain’t no Subway in Albany and other rural southern towns but the sammich. And Chuch was a big deal. I got along fine with the church thing – it was a rule in my house that if I went out on Saturday night I was praising Black Jesus Sunday mo’nin.

I touched down in Albany right before Aquemini came out. It was all people were listening to and talking about. Well, besides (Goodie Mob’s) Still Standing. If I had to be completely honest with myself, it was hearing the ‘Kast on “Black Ice” that really had me like “dammit, I fux with ya’ll the long way.” I literally walked up and down the road by my folks’ house listening to homemade mixtapes of the Dungeon Family. If was feeling particularly fanciful, I went to Peppermint Music to buy the singles and albums in the mall.

All that to say, it wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I really started thinking about how much the ‘Kast and southern hip hop meant to me. We were studying hip hop in my classes and not nan person besides my fellow southern folks – shoutout to Drs. Langston Colin Wilkins and Fredara Mareva Hadley – were asking about how the south fit into these conversations about hip hop. Don’t snub us, shawty. I felt snubbed. My mentor and professor, Dr. Portia Maultsby, asked me “well what are you going to do about it?”

Here I’m is. Me and this book.

People have written about Nas, Tupac, Wu-Tang, all them. Folks have only whispered bout the ‘Kast and southern hip hop. We off that. We need to make sure we’re represented in the academy. Hip hop isn’t one-region-fits all. Southern hip hop didn’t start in the 1980s in New York. It started in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement. We are continually coming back to that moment, remixing it and thinking through how to honor the elders and ancestors while making room for our experiences. I hope my research and book re-enforces that.

PJ: I will forever think that Soul Food is possibly the most underrated classic southern album of all time though I like Still Standing a lot. Shouts to Goodie Mob. So your love for ‘Kast is documented. Tell me how you took that love and turned it into a for-credit class at Armstrong State. I think that I’ve always felt like institutions were too snobby to be willing to allow classes where hip-hop or Beyonce, or what have you to rule the day. Yet, here we are. How did you get here?

RB: Soul Food is damn near perfect. Joy, struggle, and coming-of-age rhymes for southern black men in the post-Civil Rights Era on funky beats? Sheeeyit. Kujo Goodie’s voice haunts me. It’s iconic. And THAT is the Cee-Lo we wanna hear and see!

My department (Languages, Literature, and Philosophy) at Armstrong is so dope. I was slated to teach a special topics in African American Literature course in the Spring and my chair Dr. Beth Howells asked if I had any ideas. I told her I wanted to do a southern hip hop themed course and feature OutKast. She was with it. It was also a way to keep me on track with my writing. I told my students I was offering a ‘Kast class in the Spring and they were like “oh hell yeah.” The class filled in two days.

But I really wanna shout-out Kyara Mejia, because she wanted to interview me for the campus newspaper. So the legend goes, Big Boi’s auntie saw the article and forwarded it to him. He posted Kyara’s article on his Facebook and that got folks buzzing. Dash Coleman at Savannah Now interviewed me about the class and the article posted this week. Apparently my fellow OutKast folks be on the lookout for anything about them because the next thing I know, major media outlets talmbout “this professor in Savannah, GA is teaching an OutKast class…”

Chiiiiile. Wow. No pressure, right?

PJ: I know that I would have signed up for the class in a heartbeat. I remember in undergrad, one of my professors said that one day there were going to be classes about hip-hop and its influence on college campuses everywhere. Tell me about the class. What will the students be doing in said awesome class you’ll be teaching?

RB: I’m still working out the logistics of the course, but it is an advanced seminar so students are required to write a 12-15 page research essay. In addition to the final paper, there will also be an annotated playlist assignment, where students will use critical listening skills and research to create a playlist that addresses the question of how hip hop helps black folks living in the south update and shift conversations about race and identity after the Civil Rights Movement.

PJ: That sounds really interesting. I wish I had a class in college where I could write 12-15 pages about a topic I was so passionate about. Critical analysis of hip-hop is pretty much my dream job. I’m just too lazy to go get a Ph.D. to do it professionally. You said that you’ve been contacted by some outlets (this one included) about this class…how does that feel? Folks are mad hype about something that you’re doing that speaks directly to the hip hop head and southerner in so many of us.

RB: Overwhelming. I’m a professional blerd, I’m not used to being the subject of folks’ conversation. But it’s really that dope shit when Big Boi shouts you out. Like…damn. Aside from the random thumb thugs, there’s been a ton of love. But for the ones questioning my credentials and life, I got receipts. From ’98 to Summer ’16.

But the attention also has my inner perfectionist acting up: more and more folks asking ‘bout this book! Listen, Chronicling Stankonia is my everything. I’ve technically been writing, living, and thinking about it nearly 20 years. I’m worried about what my colleagues think (because tenure) but I’m really anxious to get it right for my kinfolks, the ones who don’t do classrooms. I need for this book to be solid. It’s the first of its kind to critically engage OutKast at the center of its analysis. Both the Ivory Tower and these streets is watching.

PJ: That’s very real. I think its dope that you’ll be trying to get it right, especially because you can bet your bottom dollar that Big Boi and Andre 3000 will likely be reading it as well. That’s a whole NEW level of pressure. Alright, let’s take this light for the end: What’s your favorite Outkast song? And album? And why? 

RB: What? Sir, that’s not light!

Their track “In Due Time” is my favorite song ever. It’s got me through a hell of a lot of valleys, including the valley known as dissertating. Close second is “Liberation” and when they performed it live at One Music Fest this past September I had an out of body spiritual experience. Listen. LISTEN.

I cheat between Aquemini and ATLiens. Aquemini is when I got put on game and ATLiens because…c’mon. It was the ultimate “fuck ya’ll” to bi-coastal hip hop. We ain’t northeastern. We ain’t west coast. We southern, and we way off ya’ll’s restricted ideas about hip hop.

PJ: “In Due Time” is one of my favorite songs too, partly because the video was so awesome. I’m an ATLiens guy myself. That album is almost flawless to me. My favorite Outkast song is probably “SpottieOttieDopalicious” or “Elevators”. But I know your struggle in answering that question. Is there anything else you want to share about yourself or the class or hip-hop, or well anything? The floor is yours.

RB: I’m so excited about this class and hope that I do OutKast’s work justice. I have a lot of smart and engaging students in the course this semester and I hope we can build off of that.

Last thing I wanna say is that I’m a DSGG first and a Ph.D. second. I’m so blessed that I can put the two together and get paid for it. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t a Georgia Girl. We’re a special breed of country Black girl magic. And much love to you and Damon and VSB. Am I VSB Certified now? Cause if I am, that gotta go on the book cover!

PJ: I think it does. We’ll be looking for that shoutout on the book cover! Thanks for being willing to be interviewed. I think its dope what you’re doing and can’t wait to read the book. Keep hope alive and may the ‘Kast set you free. Shake that load off.

RB: This interview is such a dope start to 2017. Thanks for the opportunity to chop it up with you!!

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • BatmansExWife

    Crazy!! She did the opposite from me. I left Sav for the DMV in high school. Talk about cultural shift.
    Everybody in Savannah used to claim Big Boi because he used to live there before moving to Atlanta. Before Camo, we had Big Boi.

    DSGG…listen! I like her. If I wasn’t so adverse to Savannah, I’d take her course. Anyways, I think we’ve talked about the awesomeness of Outkast and their music.

    Man, this put a smile on my face (and gave me inspiration for my workout playlist)

    • Tyrell Holmes

      dang I forgot all about Camouflage…this dude I was stationed with was from Savannah and that’s all he used to bump in his car

      • BatmansExWife

        Yes! His daughter is on Jermaine Dupri’s new show.

  • SPG

    Nasir Jones Hip Hop Fellow.
    Teaching a class on Outkast.
    Teaching all black errythang.
    I’m feeling like I did school/career wrong.
    Congrats to Dr. Bradley for figuring out how to get paid by just entrenching yourself in Blackness.
    In my next life, Imma be smarter.

    • Glo

      Right? She’s living her best life.

      • Zeldarknutson

        Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !uw178c:
        On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
        !uw178c:
        ??
        ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash468MediaLightGetPay$97Hour ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!uw178c:….,….

    • never too late

    • pls

      I’m sooooo jealous of today’s youth…very entrepreneurial. Even their prom outfits were off the chain!

  • The Pedagogue

    I haven’t even finished reading the article yet and I’m wondering how I can find a way down to Georgia and take this class.

    • KeyBrad

      I would take it and I vowed not to write anymore unless it was Phd time.

      • The Pedagogue

        Is PhD time quickly approaching?

        • KeyBrad

          Its actually here and could potentially be free since my i work at a University. But life.

  • miss t-lee

    This would be an awesome class.

  • Junegirl627

    “random thumb thugs” Thank you Dr. Bradley. I shall be using this phrase on someone somewhere soon.

  • Brooklyn_Bruin

    ” Hip hop isn’t one-region-fits all. Southern hip hop didn’t start in the 1980s in New York. It started in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement. ”

    This makes me want to fight this woman. Don’t turn me back to the old me.

    • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

      You avi name tips your hand.

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        It’s not even that. The proglf CLEARLY doesn’t know Outkast much less hip hop.

        “I grew up on booty shake we did not know no better thing
        So go ‘head and, diss it, while real hop-hippers listen
        Started by African Bambaata, so you and your partner
        Gather your thoughts”

        Any student of Outkast knows how much props they were giving out, and then they got snubbed by the East Coast. That’s what the line was about, this stuff folks is hating on came straight out of Planet Rock.

        But…I’m not going to entertain the devastation of my culture. Just let these revisionists do what I know they’re going to do. At least folks is getting a paycheck

        • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast
        • Cross Damon

          Yes. She appears to be somewhat of a revisionist. Well said.

        • pls

          She stated that *southern* hip hop didn’t start in the boroughs, and judging by all the shade in the comments, she’s right. southern rap has its own history, separate/tangential from NY. I don’t think she’s trying to take rap’s beginnings away from NY, but yall can’t take credit for everything great in the genre since the beginning either.

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            No. Southern hip hop starts with BAM, period end of story. When you ask the actual artists and creators, they’re not gonna give some alternative facts.

            Now Hip hop doesn’t start with Bam, but I’d be getting to deep for y’all.

            This revisionist history makes people feel good, but it’s WRONG. It damages the culture and it’s just as bad as Eminem testing Kendrick Lamar to see if he wrote his own lyrics.

            • pls

              What is BAM?

              • Brooklyn_Bruin

                Afrika *Bam*batta’s Planet Rock. Obvious if you know Outkast because Dre spells it out in the song.

                You could then do an oral history of the producers in Atlanta, Miami, Memphis, Houston and New Orleans and they will trace back the songs that they heard. You could talk to radio djs and program directors about how they came into the game.

                You’re going to hear that a lot of them were influenced by BAM and the electro/break dance era if hip hop. Lyrically, it’s NWA, 2 $hort, and Run DMC. If you have those local southern records in front of you, you’re not hearing the civil rights movement. You’re hearing NYC slang with southern accents.

                Outkast says that hieroglyphics, from Oakland, was a huge influence on their early days – and if you’re the sort of person that respects hip hop, you’ll hear it.

                • pls

                  Okay, this I will somewhat agree with. Atlanta hip hop scene did branch out of the techno sounding songs. We agree hip hop started in NY I’m just not ok with you seemingly tryna credit all of southern hip hop to some outside source as if southern artists have absolutely creativity.

                  • Brooklyn_Bruin

                    You make it sound like facts are up for debate. They aren’t.

                    Brooklyn and Queens dudes want to steal shine from the Bronx. Downtown cats been trying to take credit in NYC. Jamaicans want to claim lineage. There were black radio dj’s in the 40’s and 50’s rhyming over the ends of songs

                    Nope, nope, nope and nope.

                    Gil Scott Heron was doing poetry set to music != hip hop.

                    It’s bad when you got them folks trying to claim Eminem is the baddest, but we got our own erasing our own history for personal gain…

                    The fact that I’m the only one pointing this out means the battle is already lost though

  • Tasha Lawrence?

    When they gon start teaching classes on Idris Elba , you know managing expectations 101 when you have no chance
    Lawrence aka Jay : Analytics of dating a poor man with great potential.

    Sign me up!!!!

    • TheUnsungStoryteller

      Oh my goodness. I am cracking UP!!!!

      • Tasha Lawrence?

        I mean, if they got classes for the others why not those I suggested. I might even be the professor for that, with live case studies, ya dig.

    • pls

      “analytics of dating a poor man with great potential.”

      why are yall like this?!

      • Hiding My Woosay, hide yours 2

        Like how?! We stating facts, no?

  • Bwhy

    Scholarship on blackness and specifically black America is a part of all that is good and right with the universe. If we’ve got to sit through endless lectures about the world’s colonialism..uh, westernization, we should give equal time to SpottieOttie and Toilet Tisha. I’m here for it.

  • “I’m a DSGG first and a Ph.D. second.”

    Having grown up right across the river from Georgia this takes me back to listening to way too much Pastor Troy.

    • Regina N. Bradley

      Indeed!!! LOL

    • BatmansExWife

      Yes! I was thinking about Pastor and baby D.

    • NonyaB?

      What does DSGG mean?

      • CKJ

        Down South Georgia Girl.

        Pastor Troy’s click was called D. S. G. B.

        Down South Georgia Boyz.

        Can Georgians get on one accord and say Go Falcons too. No?

        • NonyaB?

          Thanks. I know nothing of others mentioned but 1st line did answer my question.

        • Southern Lurk

          I’m here for it. “Red, Black & White Cuz I’m a…”
          #DirtyBirds

      • miss t-lee

        Down South Georgia Girl…it’s a take from Pastor Troy’s DSGB–Down South Georgia Boy.

        • NonyaB?

          Ah, thanks.

        • Other_guy13

          Funny story. I almost hit PT with my car three weeks ago at the Falcons game lol.

          • miss t-lee

            Did he have the championship belt with him?

            • Other_guy13

              He actually did…I wonder if he takes it everywhere

              • miss t-lee

                I’ve heard that he does…lol

      • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

        I was as lost as you.

        • NonyaB?

          Figured it must be a southern thing.

        • By the way…
          The logistics reason wasn’t my idea.

          • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

            Say no more.

            • Tried like heII tho.

              • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

                As you should have.

    • Southern Lurk

      Across the Chattahoochee in West GA or east?

  • B. Tracks

    Reading this was sweeter than a plate of yams with extra syrup.

    12 to 15pg research essay on Outkast?
    That wouldn’t even be work. Would you post the lecture online?

    As a matter of fact, it should be included with my purchase of the book via some e-code or something.

    DSGG!

    *Heads off to purchase starch and a new set of Dickies.

More Like This