On the Existential Politics of Hip-Hop
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Keywords

Eminem
hip-hop
rap music
existentialism
irony
theatricality
authenticity
misogyny
homophobia
politics

How to Cite

Stow, Simon. 2019. “On the Existential Politics of Hip-Hop”. Brolly 2 (2), 103 -24. https://www.journals.lapub.co.uk/index.php/Brolly/article/view/1197.

Abstract

Hip-hop has long been considered political: as Chuck D. famously observed “rap music is the CNN of the ghetto”. Moving beyond clearly political themes, slogans, and acts of alterity at the heart of Hip-Hop, this essay employs the work of the rap-artist Eminem to draw out and identify a further way in which those of us engaged in political analysis might productively conceive of the genre as being political. Drawing upon the European and American existentialist traditions, this essay suggests that the artist’s irony, hyperbole, and theatricality are constituents of a political worldview that recognizes both the need for self-creation and the pressure, social, political, and artistic, that make this quest for self-creation both an endless struggle and an opportunity for a vivified care of the self. The aim here is not to seek to valorise the rap genre by suggesting that it might offer insight into the political, but rather to point to the ways in which the cultural analysis of politics, and the political analysis of culture, might move beyond the rote by paying attention to the ethical, political, artistic, and philosophical nuances of the object of study.

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