Performance of Authenticity

Practices of looking talks about how an postmodern idea that identity is produced through performance, so by imitating an identity you can adopt it.  We can see this in the case of rappers that don’t come from the poor background associated with hip hop.  In some cases, rappers that come from rich families.  Sometimes MCs will take on personas that don’t belong to them.  An example would be Rick Ross who claimed he was a drug dealer in the past but was in fact a corrections officer. The performance that he gave in his music did not match his real identity.

Kendrick Lamar winning this years grammy’s best rap performance. Ironically, his song “i” was criticized for being too mainstream and not hip hop enough, but music that rap critics consider real hip hop is rarely popular at the grammy’s.  Music has to have the ability to crossover.  Performance wise Kendrick Lamar is very authentic.  He performs all the appropriate mannerism of a rap musician. That being said, he is still very unique in his delivery.  Who performs a free concert, on a truck, in the middle of hollywood.

What I’m trying to say it that when it comes to music performance is key.  Yes, if you lie about your background it may be called into question, but performance can potentially create an authenticity that covers and hides your background.  That is why people from the suburbs can become hip hip stars.  If you perform authentically you will be perceived as authentic.  Not every audience member is going to check your background and make sure your really “hood.”

Albrecht, Michael. 2008. “Acting Naturally Unnaturally: The Performative Nature ofAuthenticity in Contemporary Popular Music.” Text and Performance Quarterly 28 (4): 378-395.  DOI: 10.1080/10462930802351989.

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Performance of Authenticity

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