Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Ethical Brand Research

thtc.co.uk -

Currently ranked the UK’s most ethical menswear brand, THTC is an ethically-driven clothing label. We produce eco-friendly and politically conscious street wear, made from hemp, carbon-neutral organic cotton, and recycled salvage plastic fibres.

Planted by the Lawson brothers back in 1999, watered with urban music, fed with love of life and street culture, THTC has grown into an influential global street-wear brand, and an online community hub, capitalising on the mood of a disenchanted youth.

THTC has been the vanguard of a crusade to bring hemp into the realm of credible, urban street-wear. We also produce private-label runs for businesses and events, produce and distribute several clothing ranges of t-shirts, hoodies, shopping bags and sweaters, all of which are certified by The Fair Wear Foundation.

We are also proud of an illustrious history of upcycling, turning past ranges into original new styles, and collaborating with companies such as Good One and My Only One.

We’ve won a number of awards, accolades and accreditations over the years. Learn more.

Why Hemp?
Although much of the current range of our clothing is made from organic cotton or salvages recycled fabrics (rPET and other industrial cutoffs), we originally founded THTC to promote and sell industrial hemp products – it’s in our name, ya know! But why go to all the trouble of using a material that the British Government (and others) has marginalised, and sought to keep tightly regulated?

Hemp Facts

  • Hemp is the most diverse and environmentally sound crop that can be grown, with thousands of uses
  • Henry Ford built one of his first cars from hemp plastic, and Rudolph Diesel built an engine to run on hemp fuel
  • Hemp can be grown in practically any climate, and needs no pesticides to be grown
  • Hemp can be grown with 10% the water of conventional cotton
  • All products that are derived from timber or petroleum can be sustainably derived from hemp, including plastic
  • Until its prohibition hemp was the world’s most traded commodity
  • Growing hemp for fuel absorbs Carbon Dioxide and helps combat climate change.
  • Burning hemp for fuel produces very little Carbon Dioxide and practically no Sulphur, unlike petroleum
  • Growing hemp would allow nations worldwide to grow clean fuel, renewable medicines, paper, food and plastics
  • Jesus was said to use cannabis oil to anoint and heal the crippled, and original copies of the Bible were printed on hemp paper
  • Hemp can produce 10 times more methanol than corn.
  • Trees cut down to make paper take 50 to 500 years to grow, while hemp can be cultivated in as little as 100 days and can yield 4 times more paper over a 20 year period.

Over the past 15 years, we have worked with some very talented designs, including Mau Mau, Herse, Fybe One, Devolution Designs, Carrie Reichardt, Gibla74, Seleka, Sam Coxen, Low Class, Oberon, Owen Tozer, Reeps One, Simon J, I Am Fingerfood, and Philip Ryder – to name but a few!

Our designs are influenced by global issues, activism, hemp, music and environmentalism. The only real design brief that we stick to is not to preach from up high – we use humor and satire to start conversations, and inspire debate around the things we feel are very important – climate change, sustainability, fair working wages, social mobility and equity of wealth.

Benji Lowclass describes his art as “…work that represents the underdogs, a different way of thinking, and the mindset that life isn’t about being successful but being happy”. His eclectic style of illustrations and prints draw from his skate and graffiti background, perfect for THTC.


Friday, 14 November 2014

CoP Tutorial No. 2



How is Branding used to Mould Public Opinions of American Hip Hop Artists?

Today, we mostly take a product’s functional characteristics for granted and while brands are mostly about image, it is no longer just their own image – it is also our image. – Wally Olins pg 14

Branding these days is largely about involvement and association. The outward and visible demonstration of private and personal affiliation… Diesel, Adidas and W hotels is one lifestyle, Hermes, Ralph Lauren and the Ritz is another. You can mix ‘n’ match to customise, enhance and underline your own particular self-perception. – Wally Olins pg 14

…It has spread into education, sport, fashion, travel, theatre, art, theatre, literature, the region, the nation and virtually anywhere else you can think of… compete in the emotional territory of people’s hearts and minds with commercial brands for the money in consumers’ pockets. – Wally Olins pg 15

…People all over the world, from virtually every country in every continent, drape themselves from head to foot in clothing bearing the names and symbols of fizzy drinks, running shoes, cell phones, universities, football teams, skis, construction equipment, or anything else with which they feel an affiliation. – Wally Olins pg 15

Many great brands are like amoebae or plasticine. They can be shaped, twisted, and turned in all sorts of ways yet still remain recognizable. That’s why so many brands can be divorced from the product/services with which they were originally associated. – Wally Olins pg 18

They can compress and express simple, complex and subtle emotions. They can make those emotions immediately accessible, in many cases overriding mountainous barriers like ethnicity, religion and language. They have an immense emotional content and inspire loyalty beyond reason. – Wally Olins pg. 19

Why are brands such a clear and unique manifestation of our time?
Simply because in a world that is bewildering in terms of competitive clamour, in which rational choice has become almost impossible, brands represent clarity, reassurance, consistency, status, membership – everything that enables human beings to help define themselves. Brands represent identity.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

CoP3 Research: Eminem

www.clashmusic.com - "Twelve things you never knew about Eminem"

www.biggirlbranding.com - By: Cori Padgett-Bukowski:
Eminem- I’m Not Afraid to Take a Stand and Why You Shouldn’t Be Either

www.sentientdecisionscience.com - By: Aaron Reid - Ph.D. Chief Behavioral Scientist, Sentient Decision Science
Vader vs. Eminem: Using the force of subconscious self-identification to boost your brand

Forbes' biggest names in hip hop
1. Dr. Dre – $620 million
2. Jay Z – $60 million
2/3. Diddy – $60 million
4. Drake – $33 million
5. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – $32 million
6. Kanye West – $30 million
7. Birdman – $24 million
8. Lil Wayne – $23 million
9. Pharrell Williams – $22 million
10. Eminem – $18 million

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Hip Hop Image Research


The hip hop playing cards (shown above) are a fun and interesting approach to applying hip hop artists to a format and context which is easily recognised. Although this does not necessarily represent a highly contextual concept, it is an interesting way of thinking. Working with a limit of 52 cards would also be an effective way to limit the content and ensure the chosen artists are relevant to one another. 

The use of playing cards is also interesting as it could be ordered so the more highly-ranked hip hop artists appear on the higher numbered card and vice versa. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Hip Hop Logo Research

An obvious riff on the Ramones logo, Dipset’s seal is more menacing, sleek, and street. As “Dipset Anthem” became NYC’s soundtrack in the early 2000s and Harlem spread downtown, the logo popped up everywhere, coming full circle when Reason Clothing reworked it using the Ramones’ typeface and eagle...without Dipset’s permission, of course.

Eric Haze’s world-class hand is one of the most recognizable in graffiti. His lettering graced the cover of “Check Your Head,” a perfect compliment to Glen E. Friedman’s photography, but the “diamond” Beasties logo Haze created for “Licensed to Ill” had the loud and confrontational punch of the band’s early rhymes and stands as a part of their identity.

Jazz—specifically Blue Note related—was an integral influence in hip-hop in the early ‘90s. The impact wasn’t just in sampling or production, but graphically as well and there’s no better example than The Beatnuts’ logo. The logo’s devilish appearance was adapted from the Reid Miles-designed album sleeve for Hank Mobley’s The Turnaround.

Though Run DMC used a few different variations and typefaces on their releases, their stacked logo created by an in-house designer at Island named Stephanie Nash remains their visual identity. From the classic red, white, and black colorway to the simple choice of the font Franklin Gothic accented by the bars, the logo is not only one of hip-hop’s most recognizable, but it also influenced several hardcore bands, including Bold and Chain of Strength. Run DMC’s logo has been knocked off a myriad of times, appearing on bootleg Obama T-shirts and even Mos Def had a rip-off of it, before he adopted the name Yasiin Bey.

Another hand drawn Haze design created with nothing more than a T-square and pencils, the “up-and-down” design aesthetic of EPMD’s logo is also reminiscent of one of punk’s best logos: the Black Flag bars. The bold typography is as direct and noticeable as Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith’s unique vocal deliveries and signature production.

Inspired by iconography from the Five-Percent Nation, Gang Starr’s simple star and chain logo became synonymous with the group after appearing on their 1990 album Step In the Arena. Originally designed by Rick Patrick, the logo went through several variations over the years, but always remained rooted in its bold and literal imagery.

The longstanding symbol of Bay Area crew Hieroglyphics, the three-eyed icon, was created by Ice Cube’s cousin Del tha Funkee Homosapien. Throughout the ‘90s, Hiero grew in popularity with the skate community through their appearances in several Plan B videos, and hundreds of boards and signposts were plastered with stickers of Del’s design.

A visual coup created by House of Pain member Danny Boy O’Connor, the group’s logo isn’t only an example of strong design, but also the power of branding. As the opening bagpipes of their debut single “Jump Around” sounded, a flurry of stickers of the band’s logo followed, causing everyone to take notice.

Normally snowmen are anything but tough or intimidating, but when promo posters appeared around NYC, seemingly out of nowhere, Young Jeezy’s street team had everyone thinking Frosty was actually kind of dope. Though Jeezy hasn’t used the Snowman in a minute, no one will forget wondering just what was going on when it first came out.

Yet another Eric Haze contribution to the list, and one of the first rap logos he designed, LL’s logo features a classic design trick by incorporating interlocking Os. Though the clean logo featured on Cool J’s successful album, Bigger and Deffer, was the perfect compliment, it only appeared on the one LP despite being so well done.

One of the few solo artists with a strong logo, Nas’s signature typography first appeared onIt Was Written and since has appeared on all his subsequent albums. The simple lettering is clear but clever, just like God’s Son himself—the perfect logo for one of hip-hop’s greatest wordsmiths.

Graphic artist Mark Weinberg designed several album covers for Naughty by Nature, but his biggest contribution was creating the group’s logo. Completely drawn by hand, Weinberg has stated that he initially thought the name was stupid, but sketched out the logo on a cocktail napkin, trying to replicate a child’s scrawl, and created a classic. He’s later admitted that the name is great, but perhaps it just needed the right visual companion.

A quick sketch by Onyx’s Fredro Starr, which was intended to be a caricature of Sticky Fingaz’s baldhead, the “madface” was streamlined and became the band’s symbol. Working with NYHC veteran Drew Stone on their breakthrough video “Slam,” the “Attack of the Bald Heads” was lead by the madface.

First conceptualized by Chuck D for another project, Eric Haze tweaked it once Public Enemy formed in 1986, and the targeted b-boy was born. People looking for controversy tried to say that it was more that what it appeared to be, but Chuck D revealed that the silhouette was actually traced from a picture of LL Cool J’s old hype man E-Love.

The Wu-Tang “W” is the hip-hop equivalent of the Batman signal. A simple classic, the logo has come to stand for the entire Clan and their brand of Kung Fu-influenced Staten Island rawness. The “W” has been appropriated by several streetwear and skate brands, but it was New York native Gino Iannucci’s 101 graphic from 1994 that used the GZA’s “G” variation that stands as the perfect homage to the Wu.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Cop3 Research

http://www.mtv.co.uk/p-diddy/news/p-diddy-talks-about-the-uk-hiphop-scene - P Diddy talks to MTV
He told BBC News: "I've always been abreast and respected the UK hip-hop scene and I look forward to great things. I think in the past maybe some of the UK hip-hop artists weren't as authentic to where they come from. It's all right to be from the UK and it's all right to talk about what you want to talk about and not try to sound or be like somebody from the US."Read more at http://www.mtv.co.uk/p-diddy/news/p-diddy-talks-about-the-uk-hiphop-scene#cD3i45L594xQWrWy.99

Hip hop is the spoken truth about consumerism and branding. Money equals power.

Hip hop sells an idea of wealth and fortune.

Can the current debate on hip hop be blamed on faults in society?

Are we afraid to accept hip hop for what it is because we are aware that it will exploit us as a society.

Are the current debates on hip hop due to pride and prejudice?

http://www.brandchannel.com/brand_speak.asp?bs_id=120 - Urban marketing & Hip-Hop Culture Crosses into Brand Strategy

Friday, 3 October 2014

Dissertation Preparation: Talk With Richard

  • Focus on the visual perceptions and representations of hip hop, as opposed to previous approach of race and gender roles. 
  • Consider producing an interactive response to hip hop - possibly create an installation?
  • Could potentially collaborate with a musician to produce/create a piece of hip hop.
  • Create identity for a current hip hop night based on research and findings from dissertation. Either find a new hip hop night to form branding and identity or a re-brand an existing one.
  • Failing this, you could pitch and propose your own idea from scratch.
  • Experiment with info graphic concept. Could create a logo for hip hop or create something to map out the different areas of hip hop
  • Cultural theories to support/challenge/better analyse the nature and elements of hip hop.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Organising Your Research

Important things to remember..

  • 400 hours of study for a 40 credit module. 
  • 6-9000 word written element and related practical work.
  • 2.5 hours support (minimum) on the written element of your dissertation - the college's promise to you.
  • Always come prepared with research and work development to maximise the effectiveness of each session.
  • DEADLINE 15th JAN 4.00pm (15 WEEKS)
  • Try to have a substantial draft submitted by Christmas.

Planning the Project
  • Write down all questions that you want to investigate. For example if the topic is on graffiti, consider the history, interpretations, subcultures (form a base list of answerable questions about your topic).
  •  From this, select two. If possible, try to combine all of these into primary and secondary questions.
  • Consider each on their own merits and focus on two.
  • Write an A4 'first thoughts' for each. Include ideas and preconceptions surrounding your topic.
  • What is the purpose of the study? Is your question researchable?
  • Think about your working title.

Project Outline
  • Consider timing
  • Consider holidays/work/life
  • Allocate timings to each question 
  • Plan a project outline
  • Factor in tutorials

Literature Search
  • Reading takes longer than you think.
  • How much can you realistically read in 100 hours?
  • Start by finding out key texts on your chosen topic.
  • Focus reading on an initial assessment of this survey.
  • Find key texts and plan time to read at least 1-2 texts.
  • Find secondary sources.

  • Start bibliography at the beginning of the project. 
  • Reference as you go along.
  • Include all details (name, forename, date, place, publisher, page)

A book about organising and writing dissertations - Doing Your Research Project by Judith Bell. 
Remember to search section 371.3 of the library on research. 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

End of Module Self Evaluation

1. What skills have you developed through this module and how effectively do you think you have applied them?

Throughout this module I have definitely improved my writing skills. Through the various lectures, seminars and study tasks I have gained a better method of recording and interpreting information. I have taken new approaches with my writing for each of the five study tasks. I found some of these more difficult than others as they were approaches to writing I had never been confronted with before. Throughout this module, my ability to record and decipher information has also become noticeably stronger. Choosing my own essay title seemed difficult originally, but being given the independence to choose a topic independently has helped me to outline my core interests.

2. What approaches to/methods of design production have you developed and how have they informed your design development process?

In terms of design production, I wanted to experiment with new ideas. Unfortunately, due to time restrictions, I wasn't able to carry out my main idea: to expose my four hip hop artist quotes onto a fabric screen and foil the quotes onto the final record sleeves. Another limitation was the unavailability of certain other facilities like the laser cutter. As an alternative solution, I attempted to cut the quotes out with a scalpel. This proved to be extremely difficult and the outcome looked rushed, scruffy and undesirable. I was eventually able to lasercut, however it was really near to the deadline so again I had to alter my original production ideas. The final method of production reflects hip hop culture through the use of photographs of each artist, their lyrics presented in a hand-written typeface, gold spray painted stencils resembling graffiti spray painting, and finally a quote from the artists but also my essay to link them all together.

3. What strengths can you identify in your work and how have/will you capitalise on these?

I particularly enjoyed the writing element of this module. As it is the only module where we focus on the academic side of art and design, I feel I have gained new knowledge on a broad spectrum of topics. Writing is something I have always enjoyed, which I think has benefitted me throughout the essay and various study tasks. I will capitalise on this by ensuring I am organised, determined and motivated in future writing tasks – particularly my dissertation. I have found this module one of the most interesting so far. I have particularly enjoyed learning about identity and constructing 'the other'.

4. What weaknesses can you identify in your work and how will you address these in the future?

Again, time restrictions were a big issue for me in this module – particularly affecting the method of production. I was confronted with a series of limitations due to poor time management and unrealistic goals. This definitely caused me to fall behind schedule and effect my final outcomes. In the future, I will make sure I have prepared my ideas more realistically.

5. Identify five things that you will do differently next time and what do you expect to gain from doing these?
  • Next time I will allow more time for mistakes.
  • I will ensure my final outcomes are made to the highest possible quality. This will add an emphasis and justify the time spent creating it.
  • I need to seek more advice from others (within University and externally) to refine my ideas to the most appropriate outcomes.
  • I don't feel pleased with the amount of research I managed to carry out during this module. In future I need to go outside of my comfort zone to gain as much knowledge and content as possible.
  • I need to learn to start looking at my mistakes as a learning curve as opposed to a step backwards.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Vinyl Record Research

Spray-painted vinyl records
Golden records as place settings made by spraying found records gold and adding a custom CD label.
"Since they met over their love of DJing, they spray painted gold vinyl records and created custom “record labels” using printable CD labels. Each record had a personal song dedication for that guest – so when they heard the song, they knew it was for them." - www.100layercake.com

The Great Gatsby Limited edition platinum and gold vinyl records.

The Pet Shop Boys: Yes: Boxed Vinyl Limited Edition 
The Vinyl Factory: Pet Shop Boys Yes Boxed Vinyl Limited Edition Product Details: • Hand crafted smoked transparent Perspex box with gold plated metal tick mounted on outer front. • 11 super heavyweight 200-gram vinyl records pressed on the classic EMI 1400, each featuring ‘Yes’ album track plus exclusive b-side instrumental version. With labels printed one special pantone colour per record. • 11 inner sleeves featuring exclusive PSB artwork on front. with track title and lyrics on back.

OUGD501: COP2 Final Essay

Identifying ‘the Other’ Within Hip Hop Culture

In order to understand the concept of ‘Othering’, it is important to first consider identity. In some ways it can be argued that identity and ‘Othering’ are two separate ends of the spectrum. This is because our identities are what we believe­ to be visible and controllable. The ‘Other’ is identity’s opposite, but ironically, also one of the main catalysts to influence particular behavior, belief and self-presentation. ‘The Other’ is the unspoken negative space. It is one person’s opinions, beliefs and behavior against another.

Identity is formed through an on-going list of aspects. These include self-presentation, how a person speaks, where they are from, who they surround themselves with, their influences, their interests, upbringing, genetics, fears, sense of humor, skills and abilities – social skills and appropriateness, religion and belief, gender stereotypes and language functions and sexuality. These are just a few examples of the broad spectrum, which determine identity. Each individual is unique. People tend to develop an understanding of themselves over a long period of time, through a range of new experiences, surroundings and, most importantly, other people.

The sociological approach to defining ‘othering’ is to study different groups within society. As opposed to focusing on an individual, sociological analysis tries to decipher the cause and effect of different groups within society. In this process, ‘othering’ is still important. It can be suggested that each group forms in response to ‘the other’. A group or unit of people choose to present themselves in a particular manner, either to gain a response from others around them, or to feel united with like-minded others. It could then be argued that people may feel pressured to ‘fit in’ or conform to behavior or habits they may not feel confident about otherwise. Influence of ‘the Other’ works in subtle, and not always conscious ways but it can have a huge impact.

One example of a core influence amongst many young people today is hip hop culture. Although thirty years ago the term ‘hip hop’ did not even exist, it has become one of the most talked about, respected, admired but also challenged cultures since the late 1900’s. The first ever rap hit was performed by Sugarhill Gang. After their release 'Rapper's Delight', the group's fame soon escalated. It was this hit which entered hip hop into the mainstream, introducing the masses to rap.

Professor S. Craig Watkins researches interactions between youth, race, media and pop culture. He states: “Hip hop has become the most visible voice for black culture, and it’s definitely changing the broader social culture.” Through its bold language, style and attitude, hip hop has formed a new wave of identity since its birth in the South Bronx and throughout the northeast during the early and mid-1970s. The identity of hip hop culture is one which has become one of the most influential amongst youths in modern-day society. It is arguable that the strong sense of unity provides comfort, strength and belonging amongst young people. That sense of 'belonging' ties into theories of 'othering' because hip hop fans are belonging in one social circle, making them feel stronger than those who 'belong' elsewhere. Identity works hand-in-hand with the idea of belonging. In order to belong, a person must act a particular way, dress with a certain style, speak with a specific tone and only behave in ways which are deemed acceptable within their social group. Once a person feels accepted, they start to feel like they belong, whether it be hip hop culture, or say, joining a new school. The desire of multiple individual seeking the same sense of belonging begins to form a unit; A group of people sharing the same understanding.

“…Hip hop has encompassed not just a musical genre, but also a style of dress, dialect and sensibilities, way of looking at the world, and an aesthetic that reflects the sensibilities of a large population of youth born between 1965 and 1984.” (Aldridge and Stewart). As described by Aldridge and Stewart, hip hop is not just about the music. It also encompasses a strong visual, spoken and behavioral 'aesthetic'. The music is built up from all of these elements; the image of hip hop changes just as frequently as the current affairs addressed in hip hop lyrics. The dialect of hip hop takes a wide range of on-going and ever-changing language features. It can be argued that the language of hip hop is unclassifiable. The broad influence of hip hop generates a need for adaption and development, just like any other musical genre. It can not be denied that visual identity, spoken identity and written identity (the lyrics themselves) each play a role in forming what is known as hip hop culture. The sense of 'othering' fuels the excitement and competitive nature of hip hop. Each lyric is to be more powerful, creative, imaginative, inspiring than the opposing rappers.

Like hip hop, every musical genre is marked with its own label and stereotypes. Pop music, for example, is often repetitive. It focuses on a memorable melody or riff to get into the audiences head. It tends to focus more on relationships, break-ups and love. Similar to some rap music, the songs generally consist of a series of verses, broken up with a repeated chorus. Pop music is commonly in the charts and the lyrics are often made suitable for a younger audience (particularly on radio play). It can be argued that pop music is less controversial lyrically. Whereas pop music focuses on a strong visual identity through medias such as eccentric music videos or daring fashion trends, hip hop's core strength and focus goes into its controversial lyrics and attitude.

The man who bridged the gap between all extremes of rap audience was Kris Parker, better known as KRS-One. KRS-One effectively outlines the abstract nature of hip hop's existence through a list of examples of what hip hop is not. This is interesting as by doing this, his explanation incorporates 'othering'. He explains: "Hip Hop is not a person, a place or a physical thing; it is an awareness. You cannot actually go to Hip Hop, or wear Hip Hop, or eat Hip Hop. Hip Hop exists as a shared idea; it never enters physical reality, it is a way to be. You cannot drink a can of Hip Hop and suddenly know how to rap. You cannot put Hip Hop on as clothing, or read a book in order to understand Hip Hop. Hip Hop begins as an awareness; as an alternative behavior that causes one to rap, or break (dance), or write graffiti, or deejay. Hip Hop in its true essence, is a shared urban idea - a unified feel…" In summary to KRS-One's statement, hip hop is an art, just like any other form of music. It is not a physical means which people acquire, it is, as he describes, 'a way to live'.

Watkins summarises the identity and fashions of hip hop as he perceives it. “It’s the fashions worn by free-thinking young black males in downtown Houston, L.A. or Indianapolis. It’s the music of 50 Cent and the pioneering sounds of the Sugar Hill Gang and Grandmaster Flash. It’s Afrika Bambaataa and the legacy of street-surviving kids in the Bronx in the early 1970s, before the hype. It’s spoken word and New York City subway graffiti and films like Menace II Society and Boyz N’ the Hood that shine an unsparing light on the collision of urban ghetto life and black youth. It’s African American activists, artists and business moguls like Russell Simmons who want to mobilize the hip hop generation into a political force to be reckoned with. It’s a walk and attitude and youthful, often rebellious, voice that resonates with high school students in Kansas as well as club-goers in Tokyo.” (Watkins, 2008). Not only does Watkins’ definition cover the general identity generation and roots of hip hop, he also adds a sentimental element of the impact it has had on him. From this brief explanation, it is evident that Watkins has been moved by hip hop. His analysis is detailed, passionate and admiring. Although hip hop has been challenged numerous times due to its bold and sometimes controversial habits, it is arguable that it is respected and admired by many people too.

There is an on-going debate in current media as to whether hip hop is to be celebrated or diminished. Tricia Rose explains the conflicting views of hip hop. "On the one hand, music and cultural critics praise rap's role as an educational tool, point out that black women rappers are rare examples of aggressive pro-women lyricists in popular music, and defend rap's ghetto stories as real-life reflections that should draw attention to the burning problems of racism and economic oppression, rather than to questions of obscenity." (Rose, 1994). This suggests that hip hop is something positive, strong and admirable. The purpose of hip hop in this view is that it is something to appreciate and give credit to. It can be suggested that this opinion could possibly be one from a youth or hip hop artist themselves.

Understanding an art for what it is intended to be can largely determine the views and opinions formed around it. Rose continues, "On the other hand, news media attention on rap music seems fixated on instances of violence at rap concerts, rap producers' illegal use of musical samples, gangsta raps' lurid fantasies of cop killing and female dismemberment, and black nationalist rappers' suggestions that white people are the devil's decibels." This supports the opposing view, that hip hop is not to be encouraged as it focuses on violent and sexist themes. The inclusion of a reference to white people are suggested to be the ‘devil’s decibels’. This also generates debate about elements of racism within hip hop culture and rap lyrics.

A key debate surrounding the topic of hip hop culture is gender roles. The representation of Men and Women in rap is one that has been challenged continuously in the media. It can be argued that some (not all) rap is bias towards men. Throughout the history of hip hop, there have been implications of disrespect towards women. Women have been referred to as 'bitch', 'hoe' and 'slut' just to name a few. For example, Eazy-E's lyric from N.W.A - Boys-N-The Hood reads:

"Went to her house to get her out of the pad
Dumb hoe says something stupid that made me mad
She said somethin that I couldn't believe
So I grabbed the stupid bitch by her nappy ass weave
She started talkin shit, wouldn't you know?
Reached back like a pimp and slapped the hoe
Her father jumped out and he started to shout
So I threw a right-cross cold knocked him out"

This example shows an aggressive nature towards his partner. The tone of this verse starts relatively easy-going, but escalates quickly into an aggressive, impatient and violent nature. By referring to her 'talkin shit, wouldn't you know?' he implies that this is no surprise to him. He then refers to himself as a 'Pimp' for slapping his partner. This sets an example for his fans that slapping women is acceptable, and even something to take pride in. Next he describes how he then knocks out the girls father due to being confronted for a second time. This supposedly adds an emphasis to his power and strength at this point in the verse. He represents himself as unstoppable. It is lyrics like these, which would arguably have had a strong impact on young males who admired rap groups like N.W.A. If somebody's idol is behaving in a certain way, it is likely that people may try to follow their example.

Adams and Fuller, in their analysis on misogynistic lyrics in rap, state: "Misogyny in gansta rap is the promotion, glamorization, support, humorization, justification,or normalisation of oppressive ideas about women. In this genre of rap music (specifically African American women) are reduced to mere objects - objects that are only good for sex and abuse and are ultimately a burden to men." (Adams and Fuller, 2006) They define rap music as “the poetry of the youth who are often disregarded as a result of their race and class status… Hope, love fear, anger, frustration, pride, violence, and misogyny have all been expressed through the medium of rap."

Tricia Rose addresses the nature of female rap and its differences to male rap. She states; "…black women rapper's central contestation is in the arena of sexual politics...Clearly, female rappers are at least indirectly responding to male rappers' sexist constructions of black women." This suggests that black female identity within rap music is partially formulated by a conflict against men. The behavior of men and women in relation to one-another, relates back to othering. Each sex, in this case, has their individual beliefs and opinion of what is right and wrong in terms of gender roles.

In hip hop, males often set examples of masculinity through belittling women and their roles in society. Black women rappers' response to this is to prove to themselves and these black male rappers, that they are independent and strong. They challenge the views set by the opposing males. Rose explains this further by stating: "This opposition between male and female rappers serves to produce imaginary clarity in the realm of raps sexual politics, rather than confront its contradictory nature." The 'imaginary clarity', which Rose refers to is the bridge between male and female values against one another. Rose suggests that instead of resolving the sexual politics present in black male and female rap, each gender insists on defending their own corner. Sociological theories of othering then become present again. As two separate units, male and female rappers sway their attitudes to challenge the other (in many cases such as these; the opposite gender). Male rappers continue to follow egotistical values of the power of men over women, while female rappers do their best to defend themselves and prove these standards wrong.

A good example which supports Rose's analysis on the opposition of male and female rap is the song 'Can't Hold Us Down' by Christina Aguilera and Lil' Kim – two female artists who have become popular recently within young teenage groups. This song is about women fighting back for gender equality. In one verse, Christina Aguilera sings 'If you look back in history, it's a common double standard of society. The guy gets all the glory, the more he can score, while the girl can do the same and yet you call her a whore.' Although this is a large generalisation, she supports the research carried out by both Adams and Fuller and Rose. The issues of misogynistic values set by males, is being addressed in this verse. Lil' Kim then continues:

'So what am I not supposed to have an opinion
Should I be quiet just because I'm a woman
Call me a bitch cos I speak what's on my mind
Guess it's easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled'

Although this song was released in July 2003, it is relatable to N.W.A's Boys-N-The Hood lyrics from 1989. Where Eazy-E raps 'Dumb hoe says something stupid that made me mad. She said somethin' that I couldn't believe.' He insinuates that his partner is a 'dumb hoe' because; in his opinion she 'says something stupid'. Lil' Kim's verse indirectly challenges this by stating women will be called a 'bitch' because they speak what's on their mind. Their is an evident contrast of opinion here. The situation is turned upside down in Lil' Kim's argument, implying that a man is only happy when things are going his way. As soon as he appears to be challenged, he behaves irrationally and unacceptably – which in Eazy-E's case is to refer to his partner as a 'dumb hoe' and a 'bitch'.

Henri Tajfel's Social-identity theory proposes that we define ourselves in terms of the group that we think we belong to and we seek approval and status in relation to others. For example people often define themselves in terms of nationality (e.g., American, British, French). Just like each country wants to be perceived as better than the others, different hip hop groups or gangs seek to be above the rest.

According to social-identity theory, people can boost their self-esteem by discriminating against outgroups. And, research generally confirms that threats to self-esteem increase prejudice, which in turn enhances self-esteem. This is broken down into four main stages: Firstly, the need for self-esteem. The reaction is then determined through either their personal identity, or social identity. This is then further broken down into an individual’s personal achievements, favouritism towards their social group and derogation of other groups outside their own. All of these elements come together in order to gain self-esteem. This process often works in a cycle.

In conclusion, it can be argued that hip hop covers an extremely broad spectrum in terms of visual, spoken and written identity. Hip hop's identity is defined through its historical roots and also the development in society. The on-going debates about sexist and racist themes within rap lyrics are yet to be resolved. There is no denying that hip hop has heavily inspired many people to fight for what they believe in. Whether the influence of hip hop culture is perceived as good or bad, it is evident through research and analysis of people such as Watkins, Aldridge and Stewart, Rose, Adams and Fuller and Tajfel that hip hop has grabbed a huge amount of attention since its birth in the early 1900s. Hip hop culture and identity is not just about the music, it is about a whole historical and sociological movement. In the words of KRS-one; 'Hip Hop is something you live' and life is never black and white.


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·      KRS-One. An Introduction to Hip Hop. Available: http://www.krs-one.com/temple-of-hip-hop/. Last accessed 10th Febuary 2014.

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·      AZ Lyrics. (2000). N.W.A Lyrics - Boyz-N-The Hood. Available: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/nwa/boyznthehood.html. Last accessed 10th Febuary 2014.

·      Cundiff, G. (2013). The Influence of Rap and Hip-Hop Music: An Analysis on Audience Perceptions of Misogynistic Lyrics. Available: http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/792/the-influence-of-rap-and-hip-hop-music-an-analysis-on-audience-perceptions-of-misogynistic-lyrics. Last accessed 10th Febuary 2014.
·      Tricia Rose (1994) Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Wesleyan University Press

·      McLeod, S. (2008). Social Identity Theory. Available: http://www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html. Last accessed 10th Febuary 2014.

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