Masters Thesis

Dissonant lyricists : expressions of identity and resistance in underground hip hop

Rap music has been alive and well as a form of popular music for the last three decades. While the salience of hip-hop culture and rap music in our society has provided a rich environment for diverse forms of its expression, it has also provided a rich environment for its commercialization. Rappers independent from major record labels must negotiate the presentation of their identity within a climate of homogenized claims of authenticity by commercially popular rappers. This thesis seeks to explore the ways that this relationship plays out through the freestyle and written rap music of independent artists. Multiple methods were used, including: participant observation, interview and content analysis. Local artists are highlighted in this work, with reference to the social context in which their music is framed. Therefore, this thesis provides insight into the ways that independent rap artists express their status, while resisting the homogenization of rap music and culture at large.

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