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Promoting sovereignty, rapping mshkiki (medicine): a critical (Anishinaabeg) reading of rapper Tall Paul's ‘prayers in a song’

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This paper analyzes Leech Lake Anishinaabe rapper Tall Paul's ‘Prayers in a Song.' The essay explores these questions: In what ways do Indigenous people use hip-hop to articulate ideas of sovereignty? Through hip-hop, how do Native artists challenge the ideas of authenticity and the modern/traditional binary? Located at the nexus between hip-hop studies and Indigenous studies, this essay argues that, by using both Indigenous and Black discourse styles, Tall Paul is able to assert Indigenous sovereignty. Indigenous artists challenge the idea of ‘authenticity' and the modern/traditional binary by constructing new meanings of what it means to be Indigenous in the twenty-first century. The essay focuses on three major themes. First, it analyzes how hip-hop challenges the modern/traditional binary; second, rapping in Anishinaabemowin is a political project that expresses Indigenous sovereignty; and, finally, hip-hop serves as an avenue through which Indigenous people can reclaim urban spaces, where mainstream society continues to render them invisible.
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Keywords: Indigenous hip-hop; Native American; sovereignty

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Publication date: March 3, 2016

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