Tag Article List: hip hop

Don’t Sweat the Technique: Rhetoric, Coded Social Critique, and Conspiracy Theories in Hip-Hop

Josh Chase
University of Louisiana Monroe
Monroe, Louisiana, United States
chase@ulm.edu

Abstract

Conspiracy theories are once again a topic of heated debate in both popular and scholarly media. Critics on one side of this debate often take for granted an “underlying assumption that conspiracy theories should be subdued if not eliminated” (Uscinski 444). Other scholars have expressed concern over the ways the “conspiracy theorist” pejorative stifles dissent and regulates political rationality (Rankin; deHaven-Smith). Bratich argues that social anxieties about issues like emerging technology and race “get managed” through the public debate about conspiracy theories as an “object of concern” (160–61). This paper asks, what are the consequences when “conspiracy panic” spreads beyond concerns about dubious claims by government officials and political pundits and begins to shape the critical response to artistic productions? An answer to this question can be found by examining the relationship between conspiracy theories and hip-hop. As a genre, hip-hop has a longstanding interest in conspiracy theories, particularly among artists known for their engagement with social issues (Beighey and Unnithan; Gosa). I start by contextualizing the conspiratorial lyrics of two historic MCs: Rakim and Tupac Shakur. I then examine a recent release by the rapper Nas. Several critics cited the perceived conspiracism in Nas’s lyrics as reason for their lukewarm response to it. I offer a counter-reading that situates the lyrics in question within Nas’s broader rhetorical strategy of giving “voice to things to which nature has not given a voice” (Quintilian 161). Ultimately, this paper makes two claims: first, hip-hop artists deploy conspiracy theories as a rhetorical technique for addressing social and political anxieties; and, second, by adopting a strict literalist frame for interpreting lyrics, we echo earlier attacks on the genre and risk undermining hip-hop’s legitimacy as a genre and as a powerful tool of what Shane Miller calls “coded social critique” (40). 

Keywords: classical rhetoric, hip hop, popular culture, conspiracy theories, social justice

Author Bio

Josh Chase is the L.M. McKneely Endowed Professor of English Literature at the University of Louisiana Monroe, where he teaches rhetoric and technical communication. His research examines conspiratorial rhetoric in public discussions of popular culture, ideology, science, and technology. 

Suggested Citation

APA

Chase, J. (2022). Don’t sweat the technique: Rhetoric, coded social critique, and conspiracy theories in hip-hop. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 9(3). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v9-issue-3/dont-sweat-the-technique-rhetoric-coded-social-critique-and-conspiracy-theories-in-hip-hop/

MLA

Chase, Josh. “Don’t Sweat the Technique: Rhetoric, Coded Social Critique, and Conspiracy Theories in Hip-Hop.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 9, no. 3, 2022, http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v9-issue-3/dont-sweat-the-technique-rhetoric-coded-social-critique-and-conspiracy-theories-in-hip-hop/

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Relandscaping the Rhetorical Tradition through Hip Hop

Robert Tinajero
University of North Texas at Dallas
Dallas, Texas, USA
Robert.Tinajero@untdallas.edu

Abstract

The field of rhetorical studies is rich and complex but has, in many ways, ignored or marginalized the study of rap music and hip hop culture. This article analyzes ways in which hip hop rhetoric adds to the terrain of rhetorical studies and posits ways that it can shift perspectives, subjects of study, practice, and theoretical frameworks within the discipline. There are also reasons hypothesized for why hip hop has been marginalized in pedagogy and academic writing within the rhetorical tradition and why it should not be ignored.  

Keywords: rhetoric, discourse, rap, hip hop, rhetorical tradition  

Author bio 

Robert Tinajero is assistant professor of English at the University of North Texas at Dallas. In his academic career he has taught numerous writing, rhetoric, literature, and communication courses. He has masters degrees in religious studies and creative writing and a Ph.D. in rhetoric and writing studies from UT-El Paso. His research focuses on race, hip hop, the history of composition studies, and integrating rhetorical studies into the composition classroom. He loves sports, music, poetry, and his favorite color is blue. 

Reference citation

APA
Tinajero, R. J. (2020). Relandscaping the Rhetorical Tradition through Hip Hop.
Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 7(1). Retrieved from http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/relandscaping-the-rhetorical-tradition-through-hip-hop/ 

MLA
Tinajero, Robert Jose. “Relandscaping the rhetorical tradition through Hip Hop.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020, http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v7-issue-1/relandscaping-the-rhetorical-tradition-through-hip-hop/

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“Every Time I Write a Rhyme / These People Think It’s a Crime”: Persona Problems in Catullus and Eminem

Jesse Weiner
Hamilton College
Clinton, NY, USA
jweiner@hamilton.edu

Abstract

This essay interprets Eminem’s song, “Criminal” (2000, The Marshall Mathers LP, Track 18), as a Catullan project in establishing distance between the poet and poetic persona, accomplished through Catullan invective. Drawing upon pedagogical experience, I argue that Catullus (a Roman poet of the 1st Century BCE) and Eminem use analogous rhetorical tactics and structures to challenge accusations (real or imagined) of poor character stemming from their poetry. Catullus and Eminem vociferously articulate a separation of art from artist, using common transgressive poetics. Each poet disavows his own self-constructed stance of authenticity with similar threats of violence and postures of hyper-masculine dominance. In so doing, Catullus and Eminem challenge interpretative practices they elsewhere seem to assume and even encourage. Finally, I suggest that the programmatic poems of Catullus and Eminem construct similar readerly personae and that, ultimately, this confluence suggests not only a common poetics but also common discursive strategies in ancient and modern audiences.

Keywords: Catullus, Eminem, hip hop, sexuality and gender studies, transgressive poetry, poetic personae, classical reception studies, poetics

Author Bio

Jesse Weiner is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hamilton College. He publishes broadly in Greek and Latin literature and their receptions in modernity and popular culture. He is co-editor of Frankenstein and Its Classics: The Modern Prometheus from Antiquity to Science Fiction (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018). He has previously received a Women’s Classical Caucus Award for his work in sexuality and gender studies. In public humanities, he has served as a program scholar for Ancient Greeks / Modern Lives, and his work has appeared in History Today and The Atlantic.

Suggested Citation

APA:
Weiner, J. (2019). “Every time I write a rhyme / These people think it’s a crime”: Persona problems in Catullus and Eminem. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 6(1). http://journaldialogue.org/uncategorized/every-time-i-write-a-rhyme-these-people-think-its-a-crime-persona-problems-in-catullus-and-eminem/

MLA:
Weiner, Jesse. “Every Time I Write A Rhyme / These People Think It’s A Crime”: Persona Problems In Catullus And Eminem. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. 2019, vol 6, no. 1. http://journaldialogue.org/uncategorized/every-time-i-write-a-rhyme-these-people-think-its-a-crime-persona-problems-in-catullus-and-eminem/

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