Social Concerns


Common a.k.a. Common Sense

Hip-hop is an important force in the U.S. and throughout the world. Some listeners may use the music as a casual pleasure, but for some inner-city youth, hip-hop is life. As a result of the genre's power, the academic community has responded with serious studies probing hip-hop's core. The following resources include in-depth thesis-length analyses of hip-hop and histories as seen through influence on various social groups:


A linguistic study of hip-hop lyrics by an Assistant Professor in UCLA’s Department of Anthropology. Also includes an interview with rapper Pharoahe Monch. Alim studies hip-hop artists as interpreters of their own culture. Culled from many interviews with the rappers themselves.

An enlightening analysis of the rise of hip-hop in mainstream society, most notably in the media and film. Also includes a short glossary of hip-hop terminology. Key lyrics are highlighted and sometimes dissected. Provides a conversational account of many key figures in the industry.

Another text by Boyd that examines hip-hop’s influence on professional basketball (and vice versa). Primary topics include Michael Jordan and the University of Michigan’s “Fab Five.” An enjoyable parallel journey through both basketball and urban music, though the main story is athletics.

Examines the most popular (though least talented) modern hip-hop artist, how he rose to the top, and the drug-dealing hustlers who paved the way for his and other Queens rappers’ successes. Begins with a glossary of key “playas” and reproductions of federal documents pertaining to legal action taken against many of them. Should be used as an exposé of 50 Cent and should in no way glorify his success or music.

Includes graphs and charts of the development of African-American music and hip-hop’s place in American society. Strong emphasis on women in hip-hop. Includes an index of words & phrases and specific examples from hip-hop songs.

A lexicon of hip-hop words and phrases. Includes a “folk in the know” section of important “rappers, writers, poppers, producers [and] deejays.” Also has an “english to slanguage” component where one looks up a familiar word and is directed to one or many slang alternatives.