White Nationalist Discourse on Hip-Hop: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of “Otherness” Construction

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Damian RIVERS, Future University Hakodate, Japan
With roots stemming from “underrepresented black teenagers living in the South Bronx in the late 1970s” (Flores, 2012: 1), within the performative genre of hip-hop discursive expressions of dissatisfaction and dissent are a common means of opposing political power, authority and governance. Despite embracing Black Nationalism during the 1990s (see Decker, 1993), various observers have since documented the hip-hop's ability to “translate across cultural, ethnic, racial, geographic and generational boundaries” (Abe, 2003: 264). This transcendence into mainstream popular culture has not been universally recognized and certain nationalist identities, based upon racial otherness, have remained in close association with hip-hop. Furthermore, the centrality of black youth within the contemporary hip-hop imagination of many (see Collins, 2006) has prompted expressions of dissatisfaction and dissent among collectives on the political “outside” of the genre. Within a framework of us-them intergroup dynamics, this presentation showcases a sociolinguistic analysis of online data collected from a White nationalist discussion forum. Concerned with detailing intersections of politics, racism, extremism and the construction of links between nation-state identity, otherness and the performative genre of hip-hop, more than 200 individual discussion posts were analyzed. These posts were written in response to three main topics including attitudes toward white nationalist hip-hop, the social conversion of hip-hop cultures among white youth and suggestions regarding how to replace black hip-hop culture with pro-white hip-hop. The most significant conflicts emerged in discussions concerning how to “combat” black hip-hop culture with many posters supporting the idea that “we don’t need pro-white negro music, we need to educate the youth so they realize there’s no value in this ‘music’” (forum post). The implications of such extremist discourse and the race-based nation-state identities of otherness constructed through reactions to hip-hop are also explored.