Listening to Rap: An Introduction
Over the past four decades, rap and hip hop culture have taken a central place in popular music both in the United States and around the world. Listening to Rap: An Introduction enables students to understand the historical context, cultural impact, and unique musical characteristics of this essential genre. Each chapter explores a key topic in the study of rap music from the 1970s to today, covering themes such as race, gender, commercialization, politics, and authenticity. Synthesizing the approaches of scholars from a variety of disciplines—including music, cultural studies, African-American studies, gender studies, literary criticism, and philosophy—Listening to Rap tracks the evolution of rap and hip hop while illustrating its vast cultural significance. The text features more than 60 detailed listening guides that analyze the musical elements of songs by a wide array of artists, from Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash to Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and more. A companion website showcases playlists of the music discussed in each chapter. Rooted in the understanding that cultural context, music, and lyrics combine to shape rap’s meaning, the text assumes no prior knowledge. For students of all backgrounds, Listening to Rap offers a clear and accessible introduction to this vital and influential music.