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The aesthetics and ethics of London based rap: a sociology of UK hip-hop and grime

Bramwell, Richard (2011) The aesthetics and ethics of London based rap: a sociology of UK hip-hop and grime. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis considers rap music produced in London. The project employs close textual analysis and ethnography to engage with the formal characteristics of rap and the social relations constructed through its production and use. The black cultural tradition has a considerable history and the thesis focuses upon its appropriation in contemporary London. The study begins with an examination of the process of becoming a rapper. I then consider the collaborative work that rap artists engage in and how these skills contribute to construction of the UK Hip-Hop and Grime scenes. Moving on from this focus on cultural producers, I then consider the practices of rap music’s users and the role of rap in mainstream metropolitan life. I use the public bus as a site through which to observe the ethical relations that are constituted through sharing and playing with rap music. My analysis then turns to the processes through which identity is solicited and produced within nightclubs and concerts. I discuss the production of subaltern masculinities and femininities by the audience in this space. I also consider how MCs orchestrate their audiences in the production of special forms of collectivity and the organisation of a social consciousness. Following this, I examine rap lyrics in a selection of tracks and videos in order to engage with the representation of urban dwelling within the black public sphere. This close analysis allows me to consider rap songs as part of a cultural politics that challenges socio-economic inequality and racist oppression. I then discuss the structural position of the black working classes and the role of cultural production in providing means of avoiding the economic vulnerability of low skill labour. The study concludes with an examination of artists’ efforts to transform their socio-economic positions through their cultural production and self-representation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Richard Bramwell
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Gilroy, Paul

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