In Search For Real Hip Hop

The subject of authenticity in hip hop music has always been hotly debated since the beginning of the genre, and many scholars have contemplated why authenticity in hip hop music has always been a big deal. They have also attempted to define it’s authenticity. I believe that the way that the genre centers around authenticity is unique. Williams (2007) states that the genres prominence, the high percentage of CD sales, “and the cooption of all things ‘hip hop’ by large companies to target new consumer demographics, has jeopardized the genre’s ‘realness’ with the threat of assimilation.”  MC, such as Macklemore might be popular because he IS inauthentic.

Williams (2007) believes that the introduction of hip hop into popular culture would put it at risk, but MC’s have created this idea of authenticity which is meant to create a barrier between the genre and its culture. According to Williams () authenticity also defines the worth of the MC. MCs will will call out one another using their authenticity as a reason why they are better than their rival. “The link between realness and an MC’s worth originated from the practice of battle rapping, in which MCs verbally spar.”

Authenticity itself has varying definitions. It could mean that the MCs are “staying true” to themselves. It could mean that an artist is “asserting” their “blackness.” In order for the music to be truly authentic it has to be representative of black culture. Not “selling out” to mainstream culture is also considered an attribute of true authenticity. Which really brings to mind a question. Is the top 40 hip hop songs we listen to today truly authentic? While it does typically depict stereotypical blackness, it is controlled and commodified by mainstream music corporations.

Williams, Jonathan D. “‘Tha Realness’ :In Search of Hip-Hop Authenticity.” College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, (2007),

In Search For Real Hip Hop

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