Ryerson University’s The Creative School is now offering a course that will delve into the lives and musical talents of Toronto-born musical artists Drake and the Weeknd, the university announced in a news release.
The course, called “Deconstructing Drake & The Weeknd,” will be offered in the Winter semester beginning January 2022, according to Ryerson Professor-In-Residence Dalton Higgins, who will be teaching the class.
“It’s time to get our Canadian rap and R&B icons recognized and canonized academically or otherwise,” Higgins said. “And it is critical for scholars and historians to examine the Toronto music scene that birthed Drake/Weeknd and helped create the conditions for them to become mega-successful.”
The class will be offered as one of the flagship courses for The Creative School’s Professional Music BA program, Canada’s “first transdisciplinary professional music undergraduate program,” according to the university.
“Even before registration opens, the enthusiasm for the class is already quite significant so I have a feeling it’ll pack up very quickly,” The Creative School Dean Charles Falzon told CNN.
Higgins has given lectures on Black music and hip hop at numerous universities and has written six books on the topic.
One of the purposes of his course is to thoroughly dissect the lyrics of both artists, whose impact on the music industry has been monumental, Higgins said.
“What people tend to forget about Drake is that he’s actually a great writer,” the professor told CNN. “In his rhymes he employs all kinds of literary devices like metaphors, iambic pentameter, similes, so we’re going to deconstruct his lyrics and examine how he puts his songs together.”
The course will also analyze The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, an Ethiopian Grammy winning artist.
“When you have these two Black Canadian artists from Toronto who are performing rap, R&B and pop, and are arguably on their way to becoming billionaires at some point in the future, there is a lot to learn from them,” Higgins said.
The class will also examine the entrepreneurial side of both musical artists, who Higgins said have to be strong business people to succeed after rising “from humble origins.”
“When you peel back the layers, you’re going to notice how their branding and entrepreneurship is actually insane,” he said. “For example, Drake with his OVO clothing line, which generates a ton of revenue, or his role as the global ambassador to the Toronto Raptors, Canada’s NBA team.”
His biggest hope for his students, Higgins said, is making sure they leave his classroom asking the hard questions about life, race, music and how it all comes together.