I’m currently working on a research paper for African American Literature where I’m looking at the emergence of rap into our culture, how it’s affected, or been affected by African American writers before rap artists. But more specifically, I will be looking at how rappers represent the different identity/persona they take on, what that means for hip hop and what that means for the artists themselves. For example, Eminem is an artist with three different identities: Marshall Mathers, Eminem, and Slim Shady. Anyone who has ever heard his music can hear the difference in each voice. The style and persona are completely different from each other, but still one in the same because in reality, Eminem, or Marshall Mathers (Eminem’s real name) is only one person.

I checked out 5 books from the Indianapolis Central Library, beautiful place might I add. Two of the most important books I checked out were The Anthology of Rap by Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois and Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop also by Adam Bradley. The other books on the topic I picked up are Tupac Shakur: The Life and Times of an American Icon by Tayannah Lee McQuillar, The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop by Kyra Gaunt, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America by Tricia Rose, and Race Music by Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. I’m also reading critical essays on 2Pac, Biggie, and Eminem.

The Anthology of Rap touches base on how rap is basically poetry, just recited to a beat. Because people see rap as rap instead of poetry, they are often skeptical about the influences of rap and of rap itself. Bradley and DuBois’ anthology addresses rap, the artists who paved the way, their technique and style, the four eras of hip hop, and what these contributions to hip hop mean. The four eras of hip hop are Old School (1974-1984), Golden Age (1985-1992), Rap Goes Mainstream (1993-1999), and New Millennium Rap (2000-2010).

In the Old School era, artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, Cold Crush Brothers, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Sugarhill Gang were among the common rappers of the time. During the Golden Age, the Beastie Boys, Big Daddy Kane, De La Soul, Eric B. and Rakim arose on the hip hop scene. The Rap Goes Mainstream era gave name to Big Punisher, DMX, Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube, Jay-Z, 2Pac, Lauryn Hill, and The Fugees. Last but not least, the New Millennium Rap paved the way for artists such as Eminem, 50 Cent, T.I., Lil Wayne, Lupe Fiasco, Young Jeezy, and Kanye West.

As I prepare for the most exciting research paper I’ve ever written, I hope to gain knowledge about hip hop that the average person doesn’t know, to be able to form a logical argument as to why hip hop is what it is today. This is a passion of mine that I’ve never been able to pursue academically until now. I hope this paper will make me a credible source of hip hop information. It only takes a little bit of reading to freshen up on stuff you already know, but it takes a lot of interest in the subject to really make it yours.

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