James Baldwin, “If Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” pgs. 124-127
Bettina Love, “Hip Hop’s Li’L Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South,” pgs. 288-298
Roxane Gay, “The Politics of Respectability,” pgs. 354-356
Listen to/Read the lyrics of a Hip Hop song(s) that illustrates “Language as Power”
You can do more than one song, but make sure they are supporting the same argument so your essay is cohesive
*See List below for some possible options
Prompts (choose one or more to address in your essay):
What is the artist/song communicating about power?
How does the song illustrate how language is either giving or limiting power? In what way does the song do what James Baldwin states language does in paragraph 4?
How does the song function as a means of understanding, troubling, revealing, or expressing/denying identity?
Is the song a “political Instrument?”
You may choose to read Bettina Love’s essay alongside or instead of Baldwin’s essay to complete an analytical reading of a Hip Song. If you decide to, address one of the following:
Love critiques commercial rap as “only highlight[ing] the most demeaning notions of Blackness” and as “hypersexual, degrading, and misogynistic (paragraph 4). To what extent is this an accurate characterization of commercial rap, rap in general, or “hip hop?” To what extent is it unfairly reductive?
Find a recent popular song by a Black male or female rapper. To what extent (if at all) does Love’s critique of Hip Hop in general apply to the song? Analyze the song and how it is used as a “political instrument” as Baldwin suggests, or how it functions as means of expressing/denying identity (collective and/or individual).
“This is America,” Donald Glover (Childish Gambino)
“The Ghetto,” Too $hort
“U.N.I.T.Y.,” Queen Latifah
“DNA,” Kendrick Lamar
“Fight the Power,” Public Enemy
“Get By,” Talib Kweli
“June 5th/QueenZnGodz,” Wale
“I’m Black,” Styles P
“Keep Ya Head Up,” 2Pac
“I Need You To (Breonna Taylor),” Tobe Nwigwe
Guidelines and Suggestions:
5 – 7 pages, not including Works Cited page
Use your source a minimum of 5 times throughout your essay.
Use any of the first two essays (Baldwin and/or Love) as your primary source, and the other text(s) and song as secondary sources
You can add another secondary source if it is pertinent and supportive to your paper
Use 3rd person
Use present tense
Use different sentence lengths and sentence types
Avoid sentence construction errors (fragments, comma splices, run-ons)
Make sure your essay is thesis driven
Thesis at the end of your Introduction
Topic Sentence for each body paragraph
One topic/issue/idea per body paragraph
Use the quote sandwich: Introduce the quote, provide the quote, analyze the quote
No announcements: This essay will address, I will explain, in conclusion, etc.
No “I” statements.
No contractions (can’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t, etc.)
Use transitions throughout
Use “signal phrases” to introduce your quotes
1” margins on all sides
Black, 12 pt. Font
Times New Roman
Works Cited page
Page numbers upper right corner
Heading (Do not include your name in your heading)
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