Date of Award

5-8-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

African-American Studies

First Advisor

Jonathan Gayles

Second Advisor

Sarita Davis

Third Advisor

Maurice Hobson

Abstract

The following research explores the ways in which a Black female rapper navigates her selfhood and traditional expectations of the music industry. By examining four overarching themes in the literature review - Hip-Hop, race, gender and agency - the author used observations of prominent Black female rappers spanning over five decades, as well as personal experiences, to detail an autoethnographic account of self-development alongside pursuing a music career. Methodologically, the author wrote journal entries to detail her experiences, as well as wrote and performed an accompanying original mixtape entitled The Thesis (available on all streaming platforms), as a creative addition to the research. The author then coded the journal entries and song lyrics using affective methods coding cycles. The author concluded that the best way to navigate selfhood and traditional expectations of the music industry was to put her selfhood first, regardless of how other Black female rappers performed on and off stage, or what consumers or music executives expected of Black female artists.

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