What is the RAP Lab?

The RAP Lab is both a place and an idea. The idea is to cultivate a “humanities hothouse” for cutting edge trans-disciplinary research, teaching, and outreach related to race and popular culture. The research might take the shape of individual or joint publications, public archives, or other platforms. The teaching might take the shape of courses offered to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Colorado or informal work in K-12 schools or communities at large. The outreach might take the shape of research and/or teaching partnerships between the Lab and civic organizations or volunteer initiatives that bring CU students into the community.

Why race and popular culture together?

In the United States it is impossible to talk about popular culture without talking about race. In music (from jazz and blues to hip hop and Tejano music), in film (from The Jazz Singer and Birth of a Nation to 12 Years a Slave), in television (from Archie Bunker to The Wire), and beyond Americans have used artto come to terms with both the inspirations and the tensions born of our racial diversity. The Lab defines this relationship between race and culture broadly, cutting across disciplines, time periods, and geography to support the individual and collaborative projects at work at any given time.

Where is the Lab?

The RAP Lab is located in rooms 253-254 of the Cristol Chemistry and Biochemistry building on the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado.

How long has it been running?

The RAP Lab was founded in the fall of 2013, under the directorship of Professor Adam Bradley from the Department of English at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Who is the Lab's director?

The RAP Lab is under the direction of Professor Adam Bradley of the Department of English at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Professor Bradley is a scholar of African-American literature and a best selling author on pop culture. His commentary has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal as well as on PBS, NPR, and C-SPAN. Professor Bradley is the author or editor of several books, including Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop, The Anthology of Rap, Ralph Ellison’s Three Days Before the Shooting. . ., and Ralph Ellison in Progress. Most recently, he collaborated with the rapper and actor Common on his memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense.

What are some typical projects?

The Lab is designed to be nimble enough to shift its attentions based on the interests and expertise of the individuals involved. At any given time, we may have as many as a half-dozen different programs and initiatives at work. This might include outreach initiatives like Hip Hop in the Classroom, which works with area middle and high schools to use hip-hop as a vehicle for teaching the language arts. It might include incubatory research projects that foster the development of individual or collective publications, like the Poetry of Pop. Check back often to see what the Lab is doing.

How can I get involved?

The lab is always looking for potential collaborators and partners. Whether you are a University of Colorado affiliate (faculty, staff, student, or alumni) or are located outside of the university, please email us at raplab@colorado.edu to discuss possible collaborations.