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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

Anna Teytelman: Japanese Hip-Hop Extraordinaire! by Melis A. '08

Anna Teytelman studies Japanese hip-hop and culture at MIT's Hyperstudio.

When most people say they have a UROP, you can immediately imagine them sitting at a lab bench while wearing a white lab coat, safety glasses, and gloves. If Anna Teytelman, a sophomore in Management Science (Course 15) and Mathematics with Computer Science (Course 18C), showed up to her UROP in such attire, her boss would probably, no, definitely, laugh at her and possibly send her to MIT Medical. Anna has every music lover’s dream job: she researches Japanese hip-hop for Professor Ian Condry, an Assistant Professor in the Foreign Languages and Literatures (FLL) Department.

Anna’s research is in the area of Japanese popular culture and is focused on Japanese Hip Hop. She studies its evolution from its relatively recent birth and also compares Japanese and American Hip Hop. She explains,”On the one hand, Japanese hip-hop admittedly takes a lot of its roots from the American styles, which come from mostly African-American origins. On the other hand, a lot of artists intentionally take a lot of their material from Japanese cultural sources. Some rappers use Japanese poetry styles such as haiku and tanka (ancient 31-syllable poetic form). Another distinctive point is that a lot of underground rappers focus their songs on political events such as the September 11 attacks in the US, the war in Iraq, and Japanese education system reform.”

Her UROP includes two very interesting aspects: researching information on hip-hop and making website for her lab, HyperStudio. Her supervisor, Professor Condry, has just finished writing a book on Japanese hip-hop, and she is now doing some further research for him. Although the book is far from being published, she highly recommends taking a look at it when it comes out. The second aspect of her job is creating a MetaMedia website that will contain various media for use by MIT faculty and students. With the help of other people in Hyperstudio, which is a media studio jointly sponsored by the FLL Department and Comparative Media Studies, she is helping to lay the foundation for this potentially very useful database. In order to do this, she is currently preparing some of the translated videos and songs that will serve as examples for the points made in Professor Condry’s book. Ideally, this website will also be used as a resource for Professor Condry’s Japanese Culture classes. To see some sample videos, visit his website at www.iancondry.com.

Anna really enjoys her unique UROP, especially learning “little random facts about Japanese culture.” She likes the flexibility of working on her UROP from home and has the added bonus of shocking people in the lounge by blasting Japanese rap from her laptop while working. She is also particularly proud that her professor has a picture of himself with Snoop Dogg in his office. How many other people can make that claim?

Outside of class, Anna plays a ton of intramural soccer (she’s lost count of how many teams she’s on) and she plays whenever she has the chance. She is also a Resident Associate Advisor at Next House, where she helps run a freshman seminar and tries to make freshmen as comfortable as possible. Her advice is to “enjoy whatever you do. No matter where you end up, this is the only thing that in the end you will really wish you had done in college.” Clearly, she is following her advice by participating in such a one-of-a-kind UROP!

Note: The picture was taken from www.japantoday.com/dbfiles/feature/rap.54.jpg

2 responses to “Anna Teytelman: Japanese Hip-Hop Extraordinaire!”

  1. Ben says:

    This is SO awesome. grin

  2. Ceceil says:

    HI I’m also doing a research on Japanese hip hop for my senoir project, and was wondering if you have or know any good sources that I can use.

    Thanks,

    Ceceil