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Title: Keepin' it real : negotiating authenticity in the London hip hop scene
Author: Speers, Laura
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 365X
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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Despite growing academic attention on the highly valued ideal of authenticity in hip hop, little research has explored its particular role and significance in artists’ everyday lives, in the UK as elsewhere. Using London as a case study, I explore how authenticity is understood, embodied, practised, and negotiated, in other words ‘lived out’, by rappers in a place where the music did not originate. The research explores not just what ‘being’ real entails in this distinctive context of cultural production, but also how London rappers go about ‘keeping’ it real, against a confusing and rapidly changing cultural, technological and socio-economic context. From hip hop’s inception, a sense of struggle has been a feature of the culture, as well as motivation for artists to make their music. My research indicates that in the dynamic context of the London hip hop scene, influenced by the complex interrelated effects of capitalism, globalization, migration and digitization, there has been a shift in just what artists are struggling against. The study reveals various responses and strategic approaches that rappers engage in to negotiate the struggles in contemporary society whilst seeking to live out authenticity in the scene. These include radical individualism, universal commonality, oppositionist positioning, explicit claims and media management. Applying critical realism as an ‘under-labouring’ meta-theoretical foundation, in conjunction with ethnography, the study makes a contribution that moves beyond fixed and wholly socially constructed conceptualizations of authenticity. My research reveals that in the case of the London hip hop scene, authenticity is an emergent human property (re)-produced and managed through the negotiation of the myriad tensions and struggles that hip hop artists living in London encounter. The study suggests that the struggles negotiated by rappers have much wider implications for young people living out their lives in contemporary society.
Supervisor: Adams, Ruth ; Wilson, Nicholas Charles Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available