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JAMES HARRIS

The Digital Circulation and Appropriation of Black Culture in Amateur Rap Videos on YouTube
James Harris, Summer 2017

Director: Jennifer Maher
Committee Members: Lucille McCarthy and Craig Saper

Since its creation, rap has functioned to advocate for black rights, to criticize dominant politics, and to bring awareness to African-American struggle and prosperity. To complicate this history, this thesis explores the recent YouTube trend of successful white rappers and their adherence to a traditional form of rap that nonetheless deviates from many of the historical values of rap. An analysis of a selection of prominent YouTube rappers serves to generate a more nuanced understanding of rap as it exists today.