CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

"Tha Realness": In Search of Hip-Hop Authenticity

Jonathan D. Williams, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Humanities

Dept/Program: Music

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Emily Dolan

Date of this Version: 14 December 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.



Since hip-hop’s inception in the late 1970s, there has been a pervasive emphasis, from Rakim’s “I Ain’t No Joke” to Pitch Black’s “Its All Real,” on an emcee’s realness, or authenticity. Why is there such an emphasis on proving oneself to be authentic? How has the notion of an emcee or DJ’s “realness” evolved with the music itself? How have musicologists and sociologists defined authenticity with regard to hip-hop? Are these definitions appropriate? Are they adequate? How has the tradition of sampling other songs shaped the debate on hip-hop authenticity?



Suggested Citation

Williams, Jonathan D., ""Tha Realness": In Search of Hip-Hop Authenticity" 14 December 2007. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 25 March 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.




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