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Gangsta Rap - A Practice-led Autoethnographic Study in the Audiovisual Arts

Santos Barea, C (2022) Gangsta Rap - A Practice-led Autoethnographic Study in the Audiovisual Arts. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Gangsta Rap: A Practice-led Autoethnographic Study in the Audiovisual Arts is formed from the original perspective, and combined role of an academic, artist, designer and practising musician. The study is based on the unique combination of the author’s lived experience and academic research which consolidates the limited international scholarship in the field and significantly extends this, thereby offering important new findings.
The emergence of gangsta rap is one of the consequences from the loss of factories and jobs in America, the reduction of public investment in the poorer areas and the lack of support of workers’ rights during the 1970s and 1980s in major American cities. As a music genre, it is mostly a product of black culture, although Latinos and other minorities have contributed to its development due to the similarities for these groups in living conditions and aspirations. As this music deals with issues of space and identity of poor working-class youth, it reached several countries in the world that were in a similar position to the USA.
Minority youth in rap music has often been perceived as a danger by public institutions, including police and schools. In this doctoral study, the author questions this perception and, moreover, how excessive criticism and in some cases legal actions against rappers have limited their creative practice, undermined their freedom of speech, and criminalised their artistic outputs. Furthermore, the thesis questions what positive outcomes can come out of the production of gangsta rap music and if these outcomes justify its creation.
Methodologically, this research undertakes an extensive comparison between the different theoretical works around gangsta rap, where different authors argue that gangsta rap can either promote negative attitudes towards police, women and traditional family values or promote racial harmony between listeners from all backgrounds as well as a platform to those in disadvantaged positions that are not usually heard. The historical context leads to the practice-led ethnographic research wherein the author uses himself as a case study to map the relationship between his childhood, living conditions and artistry. Finally, an extensive body of practical work by the author and artist in the arena of gangsta rap accompanies the thesis to showcase not just the final product (such as music videos, songs, and exhibitions), but also to reveal the tensions behind the artist’s creative process.
Based on the author’s autoethnographic research, which consolidates the cited views of other artists and scholars, rap music inspired him to express his feelings, ideas and worldview where no other place permitted the discussion of such topics. Urban culture helped him to develop certain skills that later on in life allowed him to make friends, gain a job and, most importantly, accept who he is and where he comes from. The findings from the research conclude and propose that rap music is more a reaction to social issues, inequalities, or violence than the originator of these factors.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gangsta rap; hip-hop; urban culture; working-class; youth
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions: Art & Design
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2022 08:55
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2022 08:55
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00017677
Supervisors: Fallows, C and Roberts, E
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17677
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