Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Donyale Padgett


Whites make up the majority of hip-hop consumers and participants. However, scholars have created a clear link between hip-hop, the African American community, and African Diaspora. Through ethnographic fieldwork and autoethnography, I explore the intersection of race and hip-hop. With the data from my trips to hip-hop events and in-depth interviews: I answered 5 research question.

(RQ1) How does tension between subculturalists and post-subculturalists influence the understanding of how the hip-hop community is shaped by hip-hop music and art?

(RQ2) In what ways do white hip-hoppers conceptualize authenticity in hip-hop?

(RQ3) In what ways do whites re/present an authentic hip-hop identity?

(RQ4) How does whiteness influence white hip-hoppers' authenticity?

(RQ5) How does hip-hop influence how whites understand race?

Due to changes in the culture, I found that both subcultural and post-subcultural theorist account for different elements of the structure of hip-hop communit(ies). The participants in this study noted an oscillation between class/resistance community identity, as described by subculturist, and a neo-tribal, accounted for by post-subculture theorist. Hip-hoppers' oscillation between these poles facilitated the ability of white hip-hoppers to manipulate/alter markers of authenticity

to benefit their re/presentation of an authentic hip-hop persona. Along with the changing structure of hip-hop, whites also utilized their white privilege to enable their selective adherence to previously documented authenticity markers. While white hip-hoppers are acutely aware of

race, their ability to discuss race in hip-hop and beyond was influenced more by factors unrelated to their participation in the hip-hop community, such as type/level of education.

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