cfp: Special Issue of Journal of Global Hip Hop Studies on ‘The Fifth Element’

CfP: Special Issue of Global Hip Hop Studies Journal: 

“Knowledge Reigns Supreme”: The Fifth Element in Hip Hop Culture (2022) 

Co-edited by Justin A. Williams, Sina A. Nitzsche, and Darren Chetty 

The Journal 

Global Hip Hop Studies (GHHS) is a peer-reviewed, rigorous and community-responsive academic journal that publishes research on contemporary as well as historical issues and debates that surround hip hop music and culture around the world.  

The Special Issue 

Deejaying. Emceeing. Breaking. Graffiti. These are commonly considered hip hop’s four core elements. While hip hop contains multiple elements beyond its core, many hip hop artists, activists, and fans worldwide understand and recognize a ‘fifth element’ as knowledge. This naming practice shows us how hip hop communities understand the importance of the history, values, and artistry of the culture beyond their own temporal-spatial borders. With roots in the Universal Zulu Nation in the 1970s (Chang 2005), hip hop’s fifth element includes aims of self-realization (‘knowledge of self’), empowerment, and information about the history of the genre and its key practitioners (Gosa 2015; Alim, Haupt, Williams 2018).  

 This special issue of Global Hip Hop Studies thus addresses questions about the role of knowledge in global hip hop culture: How is it mediated across other elements, social groups, and cultural borders? How is knowledge passed on from one hip hop generation to another? What is the role of hip hop knowledge in educational institutions around the globe and how can it be used for the benefit of artists and the community? What can we as researchers, activists, and artists learn from knowledge practices in global hip hop culture?  

We invite contributions from a variety of disciplines, including musicology, pedagogy, cultural studies, ethnomusicology, visual studies, media studies, history, sociology, and other relevant fields. We are particularly keen to bring artists and scholars together to co-produce new methods for hip hop education while welcoming a wide range of perspectives and definitions around the intentionally-broad concept of hip hop’s fifth element.  


Submissions may consider, but are not limited to, any of the following topics:  

  • Knowledge and hip hop’s origins 
  • Knowledge and the other ‘four elements’ (Graffiti, Breaking, Deejaying, Emceeing) 
  • Distinctions between ‘old school’, ‘new school’, ‘true school’ and indices of authenticity 
  • Forms and sites of informal (i.e. street) knowledge 
  • Knowledge of Self in rap music, audio-visual, and social media 
  • Local, regional, global, and glocal perspectives on hip hop knowledge 
  • Hip hop’s ‘uses’ in primary, secondary or tertiary education 
  • Tradition vs. innovation in hip hop education 
  • Hip hop and eLearning  
  • Hip hop’s role in ‘decolonisation’ of curricula 
  • Racial, gender, and class politics of hip hop knowledge and hip hop education 
  • Knowledge exchange in artist-scholar collaborations  
  • Heritage, lineage and passing down knowledge in global hip hop communities  

Types and Scope of Written and Visual Texts 

  • Articles: 6,000–8,000 words maximum excluding bibliography 
  • Artist statements and interviews: 3,000–5,000 words 
  • Book reviews: 1,000–2,000 words 
  • Media reviews: 1,000–2,000 words 
  • ‘Show and Prove’ pieces: high-res images for the cover and 400–2,000 words reflection and explanation 
  • Syllabi for classes, workshops, summer schools at any level: 1,000–2,000 words 


To be considered for this Special Issue, please submit the following via this Google Form by 01 September 2021:  

  • an abstract of 150-250 words including author name(s) and institutional affiliation(s) (plus references, if necessary) 
  • a brief bio of 150 words including author’s positionalities in relation to their topic 


If your abstract is accepted we expected to receive the full article or statement uploaded via Intellect’s online submission portal by 01 August 2022. For a journal specific style guide, please visit Intellect’s website: 

This Special Issue has an extended research term to provide sufficient time for those who would like to pursue funding for their projects.  


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 

For more information on the journal, please visit GHHS’s webpage.