Hip Hop, Identity, and African American Teens

By Donnetrice Allison.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This research posed several questions in order to understand the identity development of African American teens. Research questions were: (1) How do African American girls define and describe their own identity? (2) How do African American boys define and describe their own identity? (3) What images do African American girls extract from rap music lyrics and videos? (4) What images do young African American boys extract from rap music lyrics and videos? (5) Is there a relationship between African American teens’ self perceptions and their perceptions of hip hop culture? A total of 26 African American teens (10 males and 16 females, ages 14–17) were divided into three focus groups. Results indicate that a relationship exists between African American teens’ self perceptions and their perceptions of hip hop culture. The teens, however, perceive clear distinctions between themselves and the images and messages in hip hop. In fact, overall they seem to have pretty high self esteem, describing themselves as outspoken, outgoing, nice, pretty, athletic, smart, respectful and fun. On the other hand, they perceive rap music as having “some” negative lyrics, and rap music videos to have “several” negative images. Nevertheless, the teen participants note that they listen to music, hip hop in particular, all throughout the day, several hours a day, even when doing homework. In short, it is hard to see where hip hop ends and they begin, as the two are so tightly intertwined.

Keywords: Hip Hop, Rap Music, African American Teens, Identity Development

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp.255-262. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 733.118KB).

Dr. Donnetrice Allison

Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Africana Studies, The Richard Stockton College, Pomona, NJ, USA

Donnetrice C. Allison received her Ph.D. from Howard University, Washington, DC, in Rhetoric and Intercultural Communication. She is currently an Associate Professor of Communications Studies and Africana Studies at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Pomona, NJ. Her research focuses primarily on the communicative experiences of Black professors who teach for predominantly white colleges and universities. Dr. Allison also researches the social impact of Hip-Hop culture, both domestically and internationally. Dr. Allison’s most recent publications include: “Free to Be Me? Black Professors, White Institutions” in The Journal of Black Studies, and “The Academy in Black and White: Strategies in Communication” in the Howard Journal of Communications.


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