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Authors Dave Ramsaran and Simona Hill are two sociologists who have sought to understand the contradictory nature of contemporary social phenomenon. Hip hop that is brought into the mainstream by contemporary media serves several purposes. First, it greatly enhances corporate profits. Second, it repackages old dimensions of inequality, including racial stereotyping and the sexist contempt for women. Third, the glorification of violence, the idealization of excessive consumption, and the promotion of hypersexual black masculinity serve to reinforce the privilege of dominant groups. Hip hop that challenges these stereotypes and cultural notions is pushed into the underground. The intent of the book is to uncover this process of moving from cultural questioning to cultural appropriation and reinforcement of structural inequality.
Despite the existence of other works on hip hop in fields such as ethnomusicology, anthropology, political science, communications studies and Black Studies, there is a dearth in the contributions from a sociological perspective. Studies have been done which look at the emergence of hip hop from its roots in the African-American community, as well as on the contributions of some of the major artists in the field. However, little work has been done on trying to locate the emergence of hip hop and hip hop culture within the context of capitalist development in the United States. The book shows how racial, gender, and ethnic stereotypes are reformulated through different media. The book critically analyzes two prominent archetypal images of the gangsta male and the wanksta feminist who can be either male or female. The analysis shows that hip hop outside of mainstream media has remained true to its radical traditions. Moreover, as hip hop has gone beyond the confines of the United States, that same radical tradition remains a key component in the hip hop diaspora and in hip hop's cross-cultural expressions.
Hip Hop and Inequality: Searching for the "Real" Slim Shady is an important book for understanding how systems of inequality work and how they are perpetuated. It will be of immense value to professors and students in sociology, anthropology, political science, women's studies, popular culture, and media studies. Written in an accessible language, it will also appeal to an audience outside academia and will certainly speak to those who may or may not realize that hip hop has a profound impact on modern society.
Ch. 1 Introduction: The Power of the Beat 1
Ch. 2 Locating Rhymes in Society 23
Ch. 3 Contemporary Gangsta: Violent-Male Masculinity 51
Ch. 4 Wanksta Feminism: Reinforcing the Stereotypes 89
Ch. 5 In Search of the True Bards 113
Ch. 6 The "Real" Slim Shady: Capitalist Remix 137
Epilogue: The Future of the Beat 165
Glossary of Terms 179