Raney Antoine, teacher and alumnus of Loyola, helps lead the new Bachelor of Science in Hip Hop and R&B offered at Loyola. Antoine said he was determined to do it “for the culture”. He passionately disseminates the concepts of culture, music, community and art in all aspects of his life, from teacher to producer.
Originally from New Orleans, Antoine grew up with the music that surrounded him. His love of music blossomed while playing drums and piano in his father’s church. He reflected that this love evolved in college when he was exposed to a different genre from the Gospel he was raised around: R&B. While the church is his roots, R&B is his love. With the church being a foundation early in Antoine’s life, this sparked his mission to use his power as an artist and teacher to spread culture.
His commitment to his craft led him to study at Loyola in the Music Industry Department, where he believes he was given the tools to be successful in the industry. But, Raney admits that there was no teacher who did gospel, hip hop, or R&B music during his time as a student. He didn’t see it as a deficit at the time. On the contrary, he reflects emotionally on his time in the department. He recalls adjusting, thinking “let’s learn the business of music and music technology and make it work for what we do.”
The hands-on approach of the Music Industry Department, the basis of the degree, helped Antoine understand someone’s work in the industry. He recalled a memory with Professor John Snyder, who took Antoine and a few peers to Dockside Studios in Lafayette, while he was working on producing an album. Antoine admits that it was the first time he saw his teacher in a new light. âIt wasn’t Professor Snyder. It was John who was the producer, âhe said.
After Loyola, Antoine had the opportunity to be a talented music teacher for the Jefferson Parish Public School system at Haynes Academy, where his love of music changed. âTeaching made me think about music from someone’s perspective other than mine,â he said. He reflected on the need to break down music and make it digestible, where it didn’t seem like “an elitist idea, that complicated method of expression,” he said. âMusic is expression, and however you do it, you do it. His mission of equity in music education continues within Loyola’s R&B department.
Antoine returned to Loyola to work on building the Bachelor of Science in Hip Hop and R&B from scratch after six years in the public school system. The revolutionary Bachelor of Science in Hip Hop and R&B is the first of its kind. Loyola is the only university in the world to offer this unique degree program. Concentration was “definitely a missing link in the music industry’s agenda,” Antoine said. Its main goal is to make the culture felt within the department and to do so fairly, by meeting students where they are.
Antoine’s goal is to continue to develop the department over time. He wants to make sure his students get equity in their education, and he said equity is tangible. âYou feel it is useful,â he said. His opportunity to bring culture into the curriculum is something he’s passionate about, and he doesn’t take this impact lightly. As he outlined the plans for the program, his explanations contained passion and energy, bringing this new baccalaureate to life. Antoine reflected on a moment when he felt the presence of culture the day before our interview. At the end of Ensemble, a line of soul train erupted spontaneously in room 421. “It’s classic blackness right there,” he said emphatically.
âIn Western culture, academia is responsible for a lot of the preservation of discipline, information, things like that. The program that we are writing and developing is part of preserving urban culture, black culture, black American music, it’s amazing, âhe said proudly.
Outside of the academic setting, Antoine has also had a tangible impact through his art. In 2020, the Smith Group, associated with the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC contacted him to compose a piece for their architectural installation titled “Society’s Cage” reflecting the oppression of blacks through racial lynching, the police brutality, mass incarceration and the death penalty. Its soundscape, “8:46” accompanied the installation, as it debuted in Washington, DC on the anniversary of the March on Washington in 2020, at a very busy time in America. Antoine said he felt grateful that he could “bring to light the ugliness that people don’t talk about, but in a beautiful way.”
Antoine has reflected on how he wants to make an impact with his art. âThe Breonna Taylor protests were coming [at the National Mall]. They were waving his flag – that’s exactly what I wanted, to be a part of something bigger than me. For culture. Then the opportunity to come to Loyola and build a Bachelor of Science in Hip Hop and R&B, the first of its kind in the world is another time to do it for culture.