Published Aug 23, 2011In just a few weeks, pioneering Southern rapper Bun B will return to his posting as distinguished visiting lecturer in religious Studies at Rice University in Houston, TX. With one successful semester in the books, Bun B (born Bernard Freeman) seems ready for a second go-around with the course, Religion and Hip Hop Culture, which he co-teaches with Dr. Anthony Pinn.
"We start back up in September. The course this year will be taught as a continuing studies course, so it won't be twice a week, it will be once a week but we still bring the same lesson plan, the same syllabus, the same conversation to the table," 38-year-old Bun B tells Exclaim!
As expected, the UGK rhymer's first stint as a lecturer in early 2011 had pupils clamouring to take the course. "It's been incredible. We didn't have enough room for everybody that wanted to come in," he says. "Initially there was no classroom big enough to hold all the students that wanted to take the course so I teach in an auditorium. I had 258 students that wanted to take the course and probably another 50 that wanted get in. Now with all the notoriety, it will probably be even crazier this year."
Bun B supplements his lectures with songs and video or documentary footage, and carries out quite a balancing act of handling prep time for the course (he estimates a couple of hours a day) with his other ventures, namely performing.
"If I was lecturing Tuesday, then I'm using Sunday and Monday to put that together, then using Tuesday night and Wednesday to put together Thursday's lecture. Then I'm maybe taking Friday and Saturday off, going somewhere doing concerts coming home Sunday and getting right back to it."
As Bun B continues to record, perform and even dabble in acting, his time is increasingly stretched, but his role at Rice as a lecturer is something he is honoured to fit into his busy schedule.
"It hasn't been the easiest thing in the world but it is definitely not impossible and it's an opportunity I just couldn't pass up. Luckily I've been very to balance music and teaching without either suffering."
The slogan "Unconventional Wisdom" is used by Rice University to describe itself. When asked how that term relates to the Bun B of academia, he replies, "Yeah, I think using Bun B as a professor at Rice University is using unconventional wisdom to get points across, absolutely."
Stay tuned for our entire interview with Bun B on Exclaim.ca.