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Masculinity and the mic: confronting the uneven geography of hip-hop

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This article explores the uneven gendered geographies of rap music. It argues that Black men's blocked access to culturally dominant masculinity, vis-à-vis access to public space – and the resulting containment of Black men within Black communities – has produced an overly compensatory form of masculinity, for which access to and control of the public domain within Black communities is essential for access to hegemonic masculinity. Rapidly declining economic opportunity has meant that young Black men thrown out of work put their talents, time, and energy into an emerging youth culture brewing in parks, on street corners, train stations, and viaducts in places such as the South Bronx. The early innovators of the hip-hop movement used this new art form to remake the public space of the abandoned, segregated, and spatially disempowered Black neighborhoods they lived in. It was in this context that the link between masculinity and rap music was established. I conclude by providing an example of how Black women have found ways to break the link between masculinity and the mic by creating spaces where they can confront and remake the uneven geography of hip-hop, restoring hip-hop's radical spatial potential.
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Keywords: exclusion; geografía desigual; hegemonic masculinity; hip-hop; masculinidad hegemónica; racism; racismo; uneven geography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, The University of Vermont, 200 Old Mill 94, University Place, Bington, VT, 05405, USA

Publication date: March 16, 2014

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