Hip-Hop Authenticity in Black and White

in Thug Life

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780226395845
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226395869 | DOI:
Hip-Hop Authenticity in Black and White

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This chapter concentrates on aesthetics in hip-hop, as respondents describe how they assess hip-hop, what makes good rap music, and how they understand authenticity as a hip-hop theme. It illustrates that while sociocultural location undoubtedly affects respondents' mental maps of what makes hip-hop good, bad, real, and fake, the ranges and patterns that present themselves in data do not simply indicate the popular discourse about hip-hop's racial purity and pollution. There was strong anticommercial sentiment from respondents of all backgrounds—celebrating wealth and mainstream success is considered inauthentic and harmful to hip-hop. A culture community of hip-hop fans emerged, and these aestheticians prioritized lyrical content, technique, and signifying as the principles that are important to rap music. Comments about the centrality of toughness and coldness to authenticity narratives came out in many interviews, and respondents discussed different reasons and levels of approval for the presence of such narratives in hip-hop.

Keywords: hip-hop; rap music; authenticity; racial purity; popular discourse

Chapter.  13427 words. 

Subjects: Popular Music

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