, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 22-39
Date: 20 Mar 2010

Brotherly Love: Homosociality and Black Masculinity in Gangsta Rap Music

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Abstract

Hip hop, specifically gangsta rap music, reflects a stereotypical black masculine aesthetic. The notion of a strong black male—irreverent, angry, defiant and many times violent—is pervasive in gangsta rap music. This badman trope, as characterized by Robin Kelley (1996), oftentimes encompasses hypermasculinity, misogyny, and homophobia. It should come as no surprise that this genre of rap music is rife with sexist themes and lyrics. Yet, what has not been fully explored are the progressive ways that male rappers express themselves towards others considered comrades or “homies.” Homosociality (Bird 1996; Sedgwick 1995), non-sexual positive social bonds, exists in gangsta rap music between men. This study explores the notion of homosociality in this genre of music, analyzing the lyrics of male rap artists who have sold one million or more of their compact discs, for a total of 478 songs. I attempt to further unpack the idea of hegemonic black masculinity, presenting an alternative understanding of its deployment and manifestation in this music.