Date of Submission

Spring 2013

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Marina van Zuylen

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This paper seeks to investigate how exactly hip-hop artists use different personae in order to create and maintain the impression of authenticity, a complicated and intangible aspect of the genre that defines the hip-hop artist and is essential to anyone who wishes to be taken seriously as a rapper. We will also delve into the short but intense history of the genre and examine the environment in which rap was born, how and why it developed in the manner it did, how artistic authenticity is defined, and how it has played into the creation of hip-hop as we know it today. Through a combination of close readings of specific song lyrics, analysis of the artists themselves, secondary sources, and academic critiques of hip-hop culture, this paper seeks to isolate and analyze the changes in rap as an art form over time and to investigate how hip-hop was able to take specific aspects of both poetry and music to create something that is more than simply the sum of its parts. An art form that has captured the imagination of many of today's youths, rap has grown into something more than another genre of music or a derivation of poetry; rather, it has become a global language of resistance that appeals not just to a narrative of racial disenfranchisement, but to a much larger sense of historic socioeconomic disenfranchisement, regardless of race, by an established societal and political authority.

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