“Rap is Art” Hip Hop Reading List

Since the article “Rap Is Art. So Why Do Some Academics Still Feel as if They Have to Defend It?” by Teghan Simonton went live on The Chronicle, I’ve had many requests for access to the suggested reading that I offered my colleagues at SUNY New Paltz in the wake of Gerald Banjamin’s racialized comments about rap music, the representative ability of Democratic candidate Antonio Delgado, and NY’s 19th district constituents.

I’ve been directing interested people to the blog for my Gender and Sexuality in Hip Hop course where students explore Hip Hop Culture’s history, aesthetics, and politics in relation to gender and sexuality from an intersectional feminist perspective, but I thought it would be better to offer the list with full citations and not just selections, so here we are (see below).

In the wake of the online conversations I’m seeing that take up the question of rap as art, or rap as music, I’ve been thinking a lot about a moment in the introduction to one of (if not the) the germinal and must-read books for the study of Hip Hop: Black Noise: Rap Music and Black culture in Contemporary America (1994). In it, author Tricia Rose writes:

When I arrived at the American Studies Program at Brown University, I was fully committed to writing my doctoral thesis on rap music. Even though the faculty thought it was a quirky idea, they didn’t discourage it. What worried them was that rap would disappear before I finished my research, I wouldn’t have enough material to write about, and I might be unremarkable job candidate.

The field of Hip Hop Studies emerged because Rose (thankfully) followed her desires, her instincts, and refused to be dissuaded by such worries. Rap music is one of the most popular musical genres in the US, surpassing rock, and arguably one of the most widespread on a global scale. Any claim that Hip Hop is somehow less than “culture,” or that rap is less than music, clings too tightly to a bourgeois Eurocentric notion of “high art” long since proven as a means to sustain racialized socioeconomic divides. And we’re not here for that.

Now, since we are in the age of the online (collectively) built “syllabus” (the Lemonade Syllabus, Pulse Orlando Syllabus, Puerto Rico Syllabus come to mind), I offer you a beginning for what we might call the “Hip Hop Art syllabus?”  I hope those of you new to this field enjoy your learning journey.

  • Banks, Daniel. 2011. Say Word!: Voices from Hip Hop Theater. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Basu, Dipannita. 2006. The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip-Hop and the Globalisation of Black Popular Culture. London: Pluto Press.
  • Castillo-Garsow, Melissa, ed. 2016. La Verdad: An International Dialogue on Hip Hop Latinidades. Ohio State University Press.
  • Chang, Jeff. 2005. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. New York: Picador.
  • ———. 2006. Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop. New York: Basic Civitas Books.
  • Clay, Andreana. 2008. “‘Like an Old Soul Record’: Black Feminism, Queer Sexuality, and the Hip-Hop Generation.” Meridians, no. 1: 53. https://doi.org/10.2307/40338911.
  • Condry, Ian. 2006. Hip-Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization. Durham: Duke University Press Books.
  • Cooper, Brittney C., Susana M. Morris, and Robin M. Boylorn, eds. 2017. The Crunk Feminist Collection. New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY.
  • Dimitriadis, Greg. 2009. Performing Identity/Performing Culture: Hip Hop as Text, Pedagogy, and Lived Practice. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Durham, Aisha. 2014. Home with Hip Hop Feminism: Performances in Communication and Culture. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc.
  • Durham, Aisha, Brittney C. Cooper, and Susana M. Morris. 2013. “The Stage Hip-Hop Feminism Built: A New Directions Essay.” Signs 38 (3): 721–37. https://doi.org/10.1086/668843.
  • Euell, Kim, ed. 2009. Plays From the Boom Box Galaxy: Theater from the Hip Hop Generation. Theatre Communications Group.
  • Eure, Joseph D. 1991. Nation Conscious Rap: The Hip Hop Vision. Edited by James G. Spady. New York: PC International Press.
  • Fernandes, Sujatha. 2011. Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation. London, New York: Verso.
  • Forman, Murray. 2002. The ’Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip-Hop. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
  • Guevara, Nancy. 1987. “Women Writin’ Rappin’ Breakin’.” In Droppin Science: Critical Essays on Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture, edited by William Perkins, 49–62. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  • Harrison, Anthony Kwame. 2009. Hip Hop Underground: The Integrity and Ethics of Racial Identification. Temple University Press.
  • Hernandez, Jillian. 2014. “Carnal Teachings: Raunch Aesthetics as Queer Feminist Pedagogies in Yo! Majesty’s Hip Hop Practice.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 24 (1): 88–106. https://doi.org/10.1080/0740770X.2014.904130.
  • Hill, Marc Lamont. 2009. “Scared Straight: Hip-Hop, Outing, and the Pedagogy of Queerness.” Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies 31 (1): 29–54. https://doi.org/10.1080/10714410802629235.
  • Janell Hobson, and Dianne Bartlow. 2008. “Introduction: Representin’: Women, Hip-Hop, and Popular Music.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 8 (1): 1–14.
  • Jeffries, Michael P. 2011. Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Johnson, Imani Kai. 2014. “From Blues Women to B-Girls: Performing Badass Femininity.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, All Hail the Queenz: A Queer Feminist Recalibration of Hip Hop, 24 (1).
  • Keyes, Cheryl L. 2004. Rap Music and Street Consciousness. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
  • Kitwana, Bakari. 2005. Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the New Reality of Race in America. New York: Basic Civitas Books.
  • Kwakye, Chamara Jewel, and Ruth Nicole Brown, eds. 2012. Wish to Live: The Hip-Hop Feminism Pedagogy Reader. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing Inc.
  • McCune, Jeffrey Q. 2008. “‘Out’ in the Club: The Down Low, Hip-Hop, and the Architexture of Black Masculinity.” Text and Performance Quarterly 28 (3): 298–314. https://doi.org/10.1080/10462930802107415.
  • McFarland, Pancho. 2013. The Chican@ Hip Hop Nation: Politics of a New Millennial Mestizaje. Michigan State University Press.
  • Mitchell, Tony, ed. 2002. Global Noise: Rap and Hip Hop Outside the USA. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan.
  • Morgan, Joan. 2000. When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Morgan, Marcyliena. 2009. The Real Hiphop: Battling for Knowledge, Power, and Respect in the LA Underground. Apparent First Edition edition. Durham: Duke University Press Books.
  • Navarro, Jenell. 2014. “Solarize-Ing Native Hip-Hop: Native Feminist Land Ethics and Cultural Resistance.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 3 (1): 101–18.
  • Neal, Mark Anthony, and Murray Forman, eds. 2004. That’s the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. New York: Routledge.
  • Osumare, Halifu. 2008. The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Pabón, Jessica N. 2014. “Interview with AbbyTC5: A Pioneering ‘HomeGirl’ in Hip Hop Herstory.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, All Hail the Queenz: A Queer Feminist Recalibration of Hip Hop, 24 (1): 8–14.
  • Pabón, Jessica N., and Shanté Paradigm Smalls. 2014. “Critical Intimacies: Hip Hop as Queer Feminist Pedagogy.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 24 (1): 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1080/0740770X.2014.902650.
  • Pabón-Colón, Jessica N. 2018. Graffiti Grrlz: Performing Feminism in the Hip Hop Diaspora. New York: New York University Press. http://nyupress.org/books/9781479895939/.
  • Pabón-Colón, Jessica Nydia. 2017. “Writin’, Breakin’, Beatboxin’: Strategically Performing ‘Women’ in Hip-Hop.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 43 (1): 175–200. https://doi.org/10.1086/692481.
  • Pardue, Derek. 2011. Brazilian Hip Hoppers Speak from the Margins: We’s on Tape. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Peoples, Whitney A. 2008. “‘Under Construction’: Identifying Foundations of Hip-Hop Feminism and Exploring Bridges between Black Second-Wave and Hip-Hop Feminisms.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 8 (1): 19–52.
  • Perry, Imani. 2004. Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop. Durham: Duke University Press Books.
  • Pough, Gwendolyn D. 2004. Check It While I Wreck It: Black Womanhood, Hip-Hop Culture, and the Public Sphere. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
  • Rivera, Raquel Z. 2003. New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Rivera-Velázquez, Celiany. 2008. “Brincando Bordes, Cuestionando El Poder: Cuban Las Krudas’ Migration Experience and Their Rearticulation of Sacred Kinships and Hip Hop Feminism.” Letras Femeninas 34 (1): 97–123.
  • Rose, Tricia. 1994. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press.
  • ———. 2008. The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop—and Why It Matters. New York: Basic Civitas Books.
  • Schloss, Joseph G. 2009. Foundation: B-Boys, B-Girls and Hip-Hop Culture in New York. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • ———. 2014. Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip-Hop. Wesleyan.
  • Shange, Savannah. 2014. “A King Named Nicki: Strategic Queerness and the Black FemmeCee.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, All Hail the Queenz: A Queer Feminist Recalibration of Hip Hop, 24 (1).
  • Sharpley-Whiting, T. Denean. 2008. Pimps Up, Ho’s Down: Hip Hop’s Hold on Young Black Women. New York: New York University Press.
  • Smalls, Shanté Paradigm. 2011. “‘The Rain Comes Down’: Jean Grae and Hip Hop Heteronormativity.” American Behavioral Scientist 55 (1): 86–95. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764210381730.
  • Snorton, C. Riley. 2013. “As Queer as Hip Hop.” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 2 (2): vi–x.
  • Tamar Sharma, Nitasha. 2010. Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books.
  • Tiongson Jr., Antonio T. 2013. Filipinos Represent: DJs, Racial Authenticity, and the Hip-Hop Nation. Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press.
  • William Perkins. 1996. Droppin’ Science: Critical Essays on Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  • Wilson, D. Mark. 2007. “Post-Porno Hip-Hop Homos: Hip-Hop Art, Gay Rappers, and Social Change.” Social Justice 34 (1): 117–40.

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