Class, Race, Credibility, and Authenticity within the Hip-Hop Music Genre

Matthew R. Hodgman

Abstract


After its advent in the 1970s, the rap music genre was represented almost exclusively by male black artists who honestly and realistically embodied a poor urban image. Images of black urban poverty in music videos and rap lyrics were consistently used by black artists to emphasize and authenticate who they were and where they came from. With the upsurge of white rap acts starting in the early 90s and continuing through the early 21st century, the means by which rap authenticity is measured have been permanently renegotiated. Before the emergence of white rappers, race was the primary signifier of rapper authenticity. After the success of white rappers such as Eminem new parameters of what constitute credibility and authenticity in the rap genre have been forged. This article discusses the significance of the continued presence of white rappers in hip-hop in terms of class and race in relation to artistic credibility within the rap genre. On a larger scale, this article considers questions related to cultural interloping upon a racially concentrated art form. It is concluded that class has generally emerged as the premier indicator or variable of authenticity throughout rap.    


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5296/jsr.v4i2.4503

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