When I read that Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine were creating a music academy at USC, I immediately thought about how drastically different it would be in comparison to traditional music schools. Of course, Dre’s school is going to be geared towards the music business (or “innovation in business” as they put it), but it will also have an arts program, and the first thing that comes to mind is “hip hop is not going to die anytime soon.” But music is not all that will be taught there.
According to the announcement in the LATimes,
Instruction will involve engineering, computer science, fine arts, graphic design, business and leadership training.
and as Dean of Fine Arts at USC Erica Muhl said in an interview,
“Academy students will have the freedom to move easily from classroom to lab, from studio to workshop individually or in groups, and blow past any academic or structural barriers to spontaneous creativity.”
While the NYTimes hopes the school will produce the next Steve Jobs, the question right now remains who will be one of the lucky 25 who manage to get in to the school on its first opening, and what should we really expect of them? Pop music has been forever cursed with echoes of regurgitated, and sometimes even stolen art, and while the donation is a beautiful contribution to the world of music education, it also carries a certain standard that could possibly alter the course of the students’ professional careers, and not necessarily in a good way. After all, half the donation is coming from a man who got that money from gloating on his records about selling drugs, treating women poorly, employing prostitutes, and killing people with guns, and while rapper Eminem said in the past that what is said on a record is much different than what is usually said in real life, that doesn’t necessarily mean that none of what has been said on a Dre record is true.
It’s also possible that this move by Dr. Dre could help to shift the discourse on rap records from violence and drugs to a more peaceful and educational movement, something we’ve recently seen from Snoop Lion (the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg), which is undoubtedly a natural progression in both the arts and in life. Violence, after all, has the power to ultimately hinder record and concert sales, especially if the listeners are in jail.