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Thug LifeRace, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop$
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Michael P. Jeffries

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226395845

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226395869.001.0001

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Hip-Hop Authenticity in Black and White

Hip-Hop Authenticity in Black and White

(p.117) Four Hip-Hop Authenticity in Black and White
Thug Life
University of Chicago Press

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

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