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From Jim Crow to Jay-ZRace, Rap, and the Performance of Masculinity$
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Miles White

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036620

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036620.001.0001

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Real Niggas

Real Niggas

Black Men, Hard Men, and the Rise of Gangsta Culture

(p.63) 4. Real Niggas
From Jim Crow to Jay-Z

Miles White

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses the performance of blackness and masculinity in hip-hop performance, the trope of the bad nigger and the notion of the hard man, and how African American performers have engaged the sign of blackness in both pejorative and empowering ways. For young males—blacks, whites, indeed of many racial and ethnic stripes—hardcore rap transformed black males from the 'hood into totemic performers of a powerful masculine authenticity and identity at a time in which there appeared to be few real men left. The chapter also discusses the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s and how the intrusion of gang and drug cultures contributed to the transformation of hip-hop culture, the performance of masculinity within that culture, and the influence of a number of seminal artists including Run-DMC, N.W.A., Public Enemy, and Jay-Z.

Keywords:   gangsta culture, blackness, masculinity, hip-hop performance, hardcore rap, gang culture, drug culture, crack cocaine epidemic, hip-hop artists

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