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Race and authenticity in America, explored through the Bay Area's multiracial underground hip hop scene

Hip Hop Underground

The Integrity and Ethics of Racial Identification

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Anthony Kwame Harrison

"Hip Hop Underground, the first book-length ethnographic study of hip hop, takes the reader inside the world of hip hop culture in a way that no other book really has. Harrison clearly elucidates the relationship between hip hop culture, demographic change and ethnic/racial identities/relations, offering along the way one of the most masterful syntheses of existing hip hop literatures. Rigorous, yet highly engaging and enjoyable, it fills a significant gap in the literature."
—Andy Bennett, Professor in Cultural Sociology, Griffith University, Australia, and author of Popular Music and Youth Culture: Music, Identity and Place

Hip Hop Underground is a vivid ethnography of the author's observations and experiences in the multiracial world of the San Francisco underground hip hop scene. While Anthony Kwame Harrison interviewed area hip hop artists for this entertaining and informative book, he also performed as the emcee "Mad Squirrel." His immersion in the subculture provides him with unique insights into this dynamic and racially diverse but close-knit community.

Hip Hop Underground examines the changing nature of race among young Americans, and examines the issues of ethnic and racial identification, interaction, and understanding. Critiquing the notion that the Bay Area underground music scene is genuinely "colorblind," Harrison focuses on the issue of race to show how various ethnic groups engage hip hop in remarkably divergent ways—as a means to both claim subcultural legitimacy and establish their racial authenticity.

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Excerpt

Read the Introduction (pdf).

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Reviews

"This is old-fashioned ethnography in the best sense: an ethnographer intimately familiar with the literature and the culture.... Harrison's analysis is nuanced and compelling.... An important, well-written work in hip-hop and ethnic studies scholarship. Summing Up: Essential."
CHOICE

"Joining the rank and file with these underground artists, Harrison is able to tell their stories more effectively…. Harrison resurrects the notion of a global hip hop underground that continues to be the heartbeat of hip hop as a legitimate culture. In a major anthropological move, Harrison suggests the use of his multiethnic, underground hip hop adventure as a nuanced vantage point from which serious cultural critics may rethink race politics in the United States."
Multicultural Review

"[I]t is an excellent read for those interested in hip hop, ethnographic methodology, and racial studies."
Contemporary Sociology

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  Also available in e-book

 

Contents

Introduction: A Walk in the Park
1. Race in America and Underground Hip Hop in the Bay
2. Experiencing the Bay
3. Claiming Hip Hop: Race and the Ethics of Underground Hip Hop Participation
4. The Re- vision and Continued Salience of Race
5. (Re)Mixed Messages
Notes
References
Index

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About the Author(s)

Anthony Kwame Harrison holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology/Program in Africana Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Popular Music Studies.

Subject Categories

Music and Dance
Race and Ethnicity
Anthropology

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