Birgitta J. Johnson is a jointly appointed Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology in the School of Music and African American Studies Department at the Unniversity of South Carolina. She is also the School of Music’s Associate Dean of DEI. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on world music, hip-hop, the blues, African music, Black sacred music, Beyoncé & Black women in music, and ethnomusicology. Her research interests include music in African American churches, musical change and identity in black popular music, and community archiving. She has been quoted or featured in media outlets such as Rolling Stone Magazine, NPR, Vox, Public Radio International and South Carolina ETV.
We all have had special and meaningful hip-hop moments in our lives. What is one of your most beloved hip-hop memories?
I have several but the earliest is definitely from my childhood before I even knew what hip-hop was. One of my dad's ways of waking us up to go to school was by coming into the room and singing us different songs while slapping the beats out on the mattress or tugging on the sheets in rhythm. I thought he made up all the songs and only found out later that he was singing a variety of funk, 60s rhythm and blues, and what would become hip-hop music. I was about five years old when Frankie Smith's "Double Dutch Bus" came out and so one of the regular wake up songs was the chorus and some of the middle verses of "Double Dutch Bus" when he names the girls. And he put my name in the list. It was a few years later when I got my own transistor radio, that heard the song on the radio and realized where it came from.