Research Paper Topics Hip Hop


Dietel-McLaughlin / WR 13300 / Fall 2012Research Essay ProposalTim Coen

Research Question:

If hip-hop contains so much explicit material and is so highlycriticized, why is it such a popular, mainstream genre? What makes it a legitimate genre?Why do we listen to hip-hop?

Working Thesis:

Due to its main audience, adolescents, hip-hop/rap music is recognizedas a legitimate musical genre because it incorporates a theme of struggle and hardship, atheme that adolescents relate very well to.

Possible Main Points in Support of Your Thesis:


Hip-hop/rap music is the modern genre that represents the history of AfricanAmerican music, and the relatable theme of struggle in hip-hop has beenpresent throughout African American music history.


Rap has derived from the earlier African American genres of Spirituals, Jazz, Blues, and R&B. Rap continues the themes and messages thatthose previous genres embodied.2)

As Hip-

hop evolved and changed, becoming what is known as “gansta rap”,

the genre became even more popular and successful. More people began tolisten because gangsta rap spoke of the adversity of the ghettos and the rough

times people faced, a topic that rap’s growing audience was familiar with.


Artists such as Ice Cube, Run DMC, LL Cool J and others rose to

fame, all of who were “gansta” rappers. Their spike in popularity signifi

ed thegrowing audience of rap music.3)

The East Coast vs West Coast Rivalry brought about the highest mediaattention for hip-hop, highlighting two paramount artists, Tupac Shakur andthe Notorious B.I.G. With the publicizing of the feud between the two rappers,more and more listeners drew to one side or another, supporting the artistsassociated with each coast



Despite the rivalry, this time period in hip-hop history was called

the “golden era” of hip

-hop. The rivalry brought about extreme mainstreamexposure to hip-hop, and thus its fan base rose again.

Possible Objections to Your Thesis:


Hip-hop compared to other African American historical genres is still aglorification of controversial practices and morals.


The lyrical content of the hip-hop is much more explicit than thatof Jazz, Blues, or R&B


The lyrics may be different, the overall message and themes behindthe lyrics has remained constant through Jazz, Blues, R&B, and now Hip-hop;that theme is one of fighting oppression and coping with hardships.

Eminem's Stan – how the childhood trauma of Eminem's superfan played its part in a tragic story.

The international community has failed to recognise the new political visions being articulated by young musicians and activists across Africa.

A.B. Original made waves in 2017, but Indigenous hip hop has flourished since the 1980s.

Pinching musical phrases and stylistic approaches has always been a part of art making and can be a respectful exchange. But shallow, ill-informed appropriation only perpetuates tired stereotypes.

Australian rapper Joelistics and producer James Mangohig bring their family histories to the stage through a breathtaking display of beats, raps and storytelling.

Rap has become instrumental in constructing identity and radically reshaping relations to politics in Gabon and other African states.

Bootlegs will continue to be manufactured. The future of the bootleg might just reinvent the official release.

In 4:44, his 13th album, Jay-z gets confessional and socio-political, challenging traditional notions of Black male bravado and masculinity.

Hip hop often gets a bad rap but for therapists and teachers it can be a transformative tool.

Tupac's sensitivity, intelligence and creativity confronted the hostile forces that antagonized black youth across the country in the 1970s and 1980s.

The recently deceased funk drummer Clyde Stubblefield created arguably the most sampled drum track in the history of popular music – but he rarely got the credit, or the payment, he deserved.

Skepta's Mercury Prize win has put grime – and youth culture – in the spotlight.

Music and politics have long been intertwined and political patronage can sometimes lead artists to self-censor. On the other hand, some musicians are just more interested in entertainment than politics.

Hip hop is starting to be used in schools and in the community in creative and diverse ways.

The Avalanches' legendary first album, Since I Left You, was a modern classic, built from more than 3500 music samples. Sixteen years on, they're finally releasing a second one - but will it resonate in an age when everyone samples?

If the governing ANC ignores the calls for Zuma's resignation,it may undermine South Africa's leadership on the continent. It creates the idea that he can undermine the constitution with impunity.

Hip-hop artists do it differently in a town in one of South Africa's poorest provinces. Eschewing the archetypal hip-hop lifestyle, Grahamstown's rappers propose a surprising alternative.

If we can even begin to recognise and celebrate hip hop for what it was, we just may have the beginnings of a suitable epitaph for Phife Dawg.

Many have long forgotten the simple fact that Kanye West is one of the greatest producers of hip-hop in its history. A decade-long six-album streak of critically acclaimed albums rivals the greatest icons of pop.

Californian rap and jazz poetry may sound like an odd mix – but both are rooted in historic inequalities

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