The Realest Nigga: Constructions of Black Masculinity within Rap Music
Nichols, Jason Anthony
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This thesis attempts to complicate and raise questions about Black masculinity and hip hop. It contains information gathered for ethnographic interviews conducted with rap artists. In these interviews, one can see that issues of performance of gender and gender authenticity are central. This thesis addresses how interview subjects negotiate the internal differences between their rap persona and their everyday identity. As both a teacher, student and a rap artist, these are questions I am attempting to reconcile for myself; thus, I am not absent from the research. This thesis concludes that artists are reluctant to call their own rap persona a performance, for fear that it would be acknowledging that it was somehow an 'act' or not 'real'. My informants describe their rap identity with words like "aggressive" and their everyday persona as "patient". When asked about what characterizes a 'real' man, they nearly always use the same words they used in describing their everyday persona. The methodology for this thesis includes primary and secondary sources as well as interviews.