PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Monday, May 12, 2014

Web Series 'Thug Notes' Puts A Hip-Hop Spin On Classic Literature

Note: This video contains language that some viewers may find offensive.

Students of literature have long used SparkNotes and CliffsNotes to help them navigate the tricky plot-lines of the classics. Now, there’s a new web series that students can turn to for literary help: “Thug Notes.”

From “The Great Gatsby” to Dante’s “Inferno” these popular book report videos have captured the attention of students and teachers across the country by using hip-hop vernacular to explain classic literature.

Jared Bauer, the writer and creator of the series, and Greg Edwards, the host of the show, discuss the series and its popularity with Here & Now’s Robin Young.

Interview Highlights: Jared Bauer and Greg Edwards

Bauer on the theory behind “Thug Notes”

“It might just make things more appealing to take the ivory tower out of literature and kind of made it more accessible — almost in an abrasive way, you know? To make the point very strongly, that education doesn’t have to be in a certain way.”

Edwards on what he enjoys most about the series

“We just have a lot of fun shooting. Just the comments from YouTube, the kids really enjoy it, teachers are using it in the classroom. I think it’s great, and it’s just fun and it’s funny. I mean, I’ve read some of the books, definitely in high school and college, but some of these books I’ve never heard of, never even thought of. So when they give me the script, I do some research of my own. I go through some videos, and it just adds to it. It opens up my eyes, different reviews on these books, and just hearing it from [co-writer] Joe [Salvaggio] and Jared. They’re so thorough with this summary and analysis. It just helps to explain it, and it gives me a picture that I didn’t think of before.”

Bauer on using the controversial “thug” stereotype

“We are using a racial stereotype, but what we’re really doing is we’re inverting that stereotype and making it look ridiculous — saying the idea that, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ … You watch ‘Thug Notes’ and you see the smartest way to understand a book in five minutes, and because of that, it proves to the audience that, you know, there’s nothing inherently unrefined about, you know, urban vernacular, or about hip-hop setting. You know, we can explain literature in urban vernacular.”

Guests


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

April 27 26 Comments

Economist: NAFTA Benefits Economy Despite Job Losses

Gordon Hanson explains his research on the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement and why he still supports it.

April 27 12 Comments

HBO CEO Talks ‘Game Of Thrones’ And The Future Of Streaming

Richard Plepler discusses how the company is going after millennials and what he sees as the future of HBO and television.

April 26 4 Comments

How A City With 446 Bridges Deals With Infrastructure

Pittsburgh has more bridges than even Venice, Italy, but at least 20 are now labeled "structurally deficient."

April 26 2 Comments

Trump's State Chair Woos Unbound Delegates In Pennsylvania

The state has one of the most unique methods of assigning delegates. The GOP winner gets only 17 of 71 delegates.