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Title: Constructions of identity and community in hip-hop nationalism with specific reference to Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan
Author: White, Russell Christopher
ISNI:       0000 0001 3567 1021
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Winchester
Date of Award: 2002
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The re-emergence of Black Nationalist thought in black popular culture is most evident in the music of such rap groups as Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan. Together with groups such as Brand Nubian, and X-Clan, Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan have played a central role in introducing the tenets of Black Nationalism to what Michael Eric Dyson has termed 'the hip-hop generation'. Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan utilise highly selective 'sampling strategies' that draw upon a wide variety of Black Nationalist ideologies. This thesis aims to examine the impact of these groups' pluralistic 'sampling strategies' on various monolithic traditions of Black Nationalism and to consider the effect of these strategies on the formation of nationalist communities in hip-hop music and culture. Chapter One provides a methodological context for understanding rap within the context of African American cultural criticism. This chapter begins by providing an overview of the assimilationist and separatist responses to and perspectives on black marginality in the United States. Discussion then moves to an analysis of the founding principles of African American Studies, before finishing with an examination of the way in which Black American critics have interpreted rap. Chapter Two provides a comparison of the different ways in which the key notions of appropriation and authenticity as they pertain to black music and to hip-hop are addressed within African American and Black British cultural criticism. This chapter argues that the Black British approach, rooted as it is in `diaspora aesthetics' provides a more useful approach both for the globalisation of rap and the globalisation of blackness than the essentialism of African American critics. Chapter Three offers a comparative analysis of the respective linguistic and discursive strategies employed by hip-hop nationalists and their gangsta counterparts in their construction of community and identity. These hip-hop communities are highly selective in the language they use to describe themselves and others. The choices that these artists make, moreover, say a great deal about their specific takes on notions of identity. Chapters Four and Five provide detailed case studies of Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan's distinctive takes on Black Nationalism. These chapters contrast Public Enemy's 'sixties-inspired nationalism', which is steeped in well-established histories of black resistance, with the Wu- Tang's playful postmodern approach to Post-Nationalism expressed most obviously in their use of Hong Kong-made kung fu cinema of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Chapter Six provides a summary of the points outlined in previous chapters and considers the potential futures for Black Nationalism(s) in the wake of the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Supervisor: Mulvey, Chris ; Davies, Jude ; Lloyd-Smith, Allan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Rap music