Exploring Hegemonic Language: Its Impact on Insults in Media, Rap Battles, and Lyricism

Isabella Chaves, Amee Davis, Amanda Layfield, Anna Lytz, Nina Grilli

This study delves into the investigation of the intersection of gendered language, hegemonic masculinity, homophobia, and social class structures found in hip-hop lyrics. Inspired by the insights of linguistic anthropologist H. Samy Alim, we explore the manifestation of “lyrical freedom” as both oppressive and liberating within the genre. Our research analyzes data from live rap battles and pre-recorded songs which allows us to understand the strategic use of language used to dominate one’s opponent. We highlight examples such as 21 Savage’s controversial lyricism in the “XXL Freshmen Cypher ” and A$AP Rocky’s use of homophobia and classism in rap battles. Our research ultimately displays how the word choice and phrases used within these examples are misogynistic and homophobic, a routinely found element in hip-hop culture. We too discovered an emergence of classist language in these spaces. Through this interdisciplinary approach, we aimed to evaluate the complex interplay between linguistic expression, cultural identity, and social power dynamics within the hip-hop community.

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