The Mixtape: A Case Study in Emancipatory Journalism
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ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: THE MIXTAPE: A CASE STUDY IN EMANCIPATORY JOURNALISM Jared A. Ball, Doctor of Philosophy, 2005 Directed By: Dr. Katherine McAdams Associate Professor Philip Merrill College of Journalism Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies During the 1970s the rap music mixtape developed alongside hip-hop as an underground method of mass communication. Initially created by disc-jockeys in an era prior to popular "urban" radio and video formats, these mixtapes represented an alternative, circumventing traditional mass medium. However, as hip-hop has come under increasing corporate control within a larger consolidated media ownership environment, so too has the mixtape had to face the challenge of maintaining its autonomy. This media ownership consolidation, vertically and horizontally integrated, has facilitated further colonial control over African America and has exposed as myth notions of democratizing media in an undemocratic society. Acknowledging a colonial relationship the writer created FreeMix Radio: The Original Mixtape Radio Show where the mixtape becomes both a source of free cultural expression and an anti-colonial emancipatory journalism developed as a "Third World" response to the needs of postcolonial nation-building. This dissertation explores the contemporary colonizing effects of media consolidation, cultural industry function, and copyright ownership, concluding that the development of an underground press that recognizes the tremendous disparities in advanced technological access (the "digital divide") appears to be the only viable alternative. The potential of the mixtape to serve as a source of emancipatory journalism is studied via a three-pronged methodological approach: 1) An explication of literature and theory related to the history of and contemporary need for resistance media, 2) an analysis of the mixtape as a potential underground mass press and 3) three focus group reactions to the mixtape as resistance media, specifically, the case study of the writer's own FreeMix Radio: The Original Mixtape Radio Show. The research shows that while FreeMix may need technical fine-tuning, the mixtape itself does offer potential as part of a powerful underground mass press and source of cultural expression.