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Hip-Hop Ethos

Department of Sociology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
University Libraries, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Humanities 2019, 8(1), 39;
Received: 12 February 2019 / Accepted: 17 February 2019 / Published: 27 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Histories of Ethos: World Perspectives on Rhetoric)
PDF [248 KB, uploaded 1 March 2019]


This article excavates the ethos surrounding hip hop, starting from the proposition that hip hop represents a distinct yet pervasive expression of contemporary black subjectivity, which crystalized in 1970s New York City and has since proliferated into a potent ethos of the subaltern embraced within socially marginalized youth communities throughout the world. The article begins by outlining the black diasporic traditions of expressive performance that hip hop issues from, as discussed through the work of Zora Neale Hurston and Amiri Baraka. In the remainder of the article, a blueprint of hip hop’s ethos is presented based on five fundamental tenets: (1) properties of flow, layering, and rupture; (2) a principle of productive consumption; (3) the production of excessive publicity or promotion—what hip-hop affiliates refer to as “hype”; (4) embracing individual and communal entrepreneurship; and (5) a committed politics of action and loyalty. While acknowledging hip hop’s malleability and refusal to be neatly characterized, the article maintains that its characteristic spirit embodies these core doctrines. View Full-Text
Keywords: hip hop; black aesthetics; New York; flow; layering; rupture; productive consumption; hype; entrepreneurship; politics; counter-knowledge hip hop; black aesthetics; New York; flow; layering; rupture; productive consumption; hype; entrepreneurship; politics; counter-knowledge
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Harrison, A.K.; Arthur, C.E. Hip-Hop Ethos. Humanities 2019, 8, 39.

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