Date Thesis Awarded

5-2018

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Modern Languages and Literatures

Advisor

Michael Leruth

Committee Members

Nathan Rabalais

Anne Rasmussen

Abstract

In the 1980s, when hip hop came to France, the country was experiencing critical changes to its demographics. Following decolonization in the 1960s and 70s, people from North and West Africa moved to France and resettled there. The children of these immigrants came of age during the 1980s and for many, racism, feelings of exclusion, and unemployment were the norm. These youths caught between French culture and the cultures of their parents sought an identity of their own and a community that would accept them, which hip hop provided. Through breakdancing, deejaying, graffiti art, and rapping French youths found an outlet for their anger and frustration living in France. Rap music allowed young people of color to protest the realities of their lives such as prejudice, police brutality, drug abuse, and poverty. Eventually, as the genre gained more and more mainstream acceptance, the diversity of topics and the messages pushed by hip hop artists began to wane in favor of more hedonistic, egocentric forms of rap music. This shift in the varieties of rap represented led to a lack of diversity within the genre itself. However, through an examination of Islam, gender and sexuality, and globalization in more recent examples of French hip hop we notice that artists are pushing the genre to open back up once again to diversity, as it did in the past.

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