Thesis Title

Lyrical Trends Throughout the 2010s in Rap

Graduation Date

5-2022

Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree

Bachelor of Arts

Primary Major

Psychology

Second Major

History

Primary Minor

Counseling and Communications

Second Minor

Spanish

Program Director

Jordan Lieser, PhD

Thesis Advisor

Jordan Lieser, PhD

Abstract

Over the past few decades, rap and hip-hop music have played important roles in the entertainment industry, but their songs and lyrics are also cultural artifacts. The majority of influential rappers, artists, and musicians are African-Americans, experiencing socio-political and economic hardships from the lens of an inner-city community. Issues such as gang and gun violence, drug epidemics, and police brutality often hold a large presence in their artistic expression, spreading their local experience into national or international political or socio-economic conversations. Examples include artists such as Kendrick Lamar from Compton, Jay-Z from the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, J. Cole from North Carolina, Nas from Queens, Kanye West from Chicago, Lil’ Wayne from New Orleans, N.W.A. from Compton, and Snoop Dogg from Long Beach.

Scholarly work that focuses on the origins of hip-hop music rarely includes music from the 2010s, a common omission that illustrates the lack of recent research on this time period. Through content analysis and a detailed coding methodology of lyrics from 2010s rap and hip-hop music, this paper examines the lived experiences of urban, African-American communities as presented in popular music. The artifacts that will be examined are albums from artists that are from places such as Compton, Chicago, Illinois, New York City, and Detroit. Hip-hop and rap music often suffer from a lack of context and a negative connotation as it is consumed through wider, popular music markets. This paper addresses both the gap in scholarly literature and this much-needed historical context from hip-hop and rap music from the 2010s.

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