Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Hip Hop Underground

Hip Hop Underground: The Integrity and Ethics of Racial Identification

Anthony Kwame Harrison
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 226
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Hip Hop Underground
    Book Description:

    Hip Hop Undergroundis a vivid ethnography of the author's observations and experiences in the multiracial world of the San Francisco underground hip hop scene. While Anthony Kwame Harrison interviewed area hip hop artists for this entertaining and informative book, he also performed as the emcee "Mad Squirrel." His immersion in the subculture provides him with unique insights into this dynamic and racially diverse but close-knit community.

    Hip Hop Undergroundexamines the changing nature of race among young Americans, and examines the issues of ethnic and racial identification, interaction, and understanding. Critiquing the notion that the Bay Area underground music scene is genuinely "colorblind," Harrison focuses on the issue of race to show how various ethnic groups engage hip hop in remarkably divergent ways-as a means to both claim subcultural legitimacy and establish their racial authenticity.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0062-8
    Subjects: Music, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction: A Walk in the Park
    (pp. 1-14)

    “Okay, the entrance to the park is two blocks that way (pointing). Our job is to get there, rolling this deep, without being stopped by the police.” And with that, fourteen young adults of various racial and ethnic backgrounds, several carrying backpacks containing forty-ounce bottles of beer, made their way down San Francisco’s Fulton Street along the north end of Golden Gate Park. On reaching the park entrance, the collective enthusiasm quickly leveled under the encroaching darkness. Our guides, the two people who had “partied” there before, were quick to assure us that the spot where we were going was...

  4. 1 Race in America and Underground Hip Hop in the Bay
    (pp. 15-46)

    The problem of the color line, or where and how distinctions between races are drawn, continues to plague American society. While multiculturalist initiatives and the conspicuous consumption of racialized popular cultures masquerade as remedies to racial issues (and in some cases even race itself), on close examination it is clear that the hangover of nearly two hundred years of legal white dominion will take more than a few generations to relieve. Beginning with legislative efforts initiated during the civil rights era, a number of congressional acts, legal precedents, and federal policies have sought to redress historical inequalities among Americans of...

  5. 2 Experiencing the Bay
    (pp. 47-82)

    The racial, ethnic, and (authentically) hip hop subjectivities that are at the core of this study involve dynamic and nuanced ongoing mediations. In representing these,Hip Hop Undergroundtakes a critically reflexive ethnographic approach that situates the researcher as an interactive participant within the field of study. This “truly participatory participant-observation” (Cooley 1997, 4) facilitated countless instances of ethnographic disclosure, discovery, and understanding. Sharing in the everyday activities of underground hip hop artists and enthusiasts enhanced my familiarity and sense of affinity with this community, thus providing me with valuable insights into the contours of racial boundaries and how they...

  6. 3 Claiming Hip Hop: Race and the Ethics of Underground Hip Hop Participation
    (pp. 83-119)

    Hip hop, more so than any other music style, has been mired in deliberations over authenticity. As a genre of music that teeters on the edge of anti-establishment radicalism and corporate co-opted commercialism, it often straddles the line between extremes of street credibility (poverty) and pop celebrity (wealth) (Watkins 2005, 5). In an essay entitled “Authenticity within Hip Hop and Other Cultures Threatened with Assimilation,” Media studies scholar Kembrew McLeod (1999) argued that during the latter part of the 1990s, what came to be understood as authentic hip hop oriented itself around sets of binary oppositions occurring along various semantic...

  7. 4 The Re-vision and Continued Salience of Race
    (pp. 120-155)

    The San Francisco hip hop group Universal Figures probably never made anyone’s shortlist of “artists most likely to carry the mantle of Bay Area underground hip hop into the twenty-first century.” In fact, between my first learning of them—from DJ Baxsmackwards, who dropped their name as an example of “real” emcees who attended the Rockin’ Java open-mic—and writing this, they appear to have disbanded. A recent online search for the group yielded only one member’s 2006 solo album; it was by Japanese American emcee Bucc Rogerz, whose album, ironically enough, is titledMusic for the 21st Century. Still,...

  8. 5 (Re)Mixed Messages
    (pp. 156-172)

    It is hard to forget the night that Megabusive showed up at the Anticon eviction party¹ carrying a twelve-pack of Budweiser that he refused to share. The members of Anticon at one time seemed interested in having Megabusive join their ranks. Adding a black emcee would have helped alleviate the air of suspicion that perpetually surrounded the group’s all-white image. Doseone—perhaps the only Anticon member whose appearance could allow him to claim some non-white racial ancestry—was once quoted in aSF Bay Guardianarticle as saying, “the white thing has become so fucking dead to us.” To which...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 173-186)
  10. References
    (pp. 187-208)
  11. Index
    (pp. 209-219)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 220-220)