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Title: Why You Rappin' Like You Come From the Streets?: Race and Authenticity in Hip-Hop Language
Authors: O'Brien, Ronan
Advisors: Fellbaum, Christine
Contributors: Leslie, Sarah-Jane
Department: Independent Concentration
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: This thesis looks at the linguistic features “invariant be” (sometimes “habitual be”), copula absence, and absence of the 3rd person singular verbal -s, which are all prominent within African American Vernacular English (AAVE), as well as Hip-Hop Language (HHL). It explores these features in the context of rap, through analysis of a corpus of lyrics created from a sample of rappers. Building off previous sociolinguistic work on race and authenticity, this study compares the linguistic characteristics of black and white rappers, with awareness of rap as a form of performance and the genre’s demands on artists to both demonstrate legitimacy and meet linguistic expectations. Frequency of use of each structure is compared between the two groups; it is found that, based on the rappers sampled, black rappers employ all features at generally higher rates. Through token analysis, usage of these three structures in rap is also compared with previous descriptions that tended to focus on spoken AAVE. While the usage in speech and rap is similar, there are also subtle differences in syntax and semantics, which can be partially attributed to the nature of rap narratives and their cultural context.
Extent: 69 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Independent Concentration, 1972-2020

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