Recent Comments

Akil Houston

Badu is indeed forgotten as a southern bred artist. She complicates easy readings of her in either or categories. Just when people have figured her out she is on something else. The videos other side of the game, window seat, next lifetime and that masterful track Southern Gul with Rahzel!

I may be biased as well when it comes to DF. I think Killer Mike’s intro on Purple Ribbon Presents sums up the accomplishments of this crew quite nicely.

Killer Mike appears with his arms crossed on the cover of his 2012 album.
Charles P. Linscott

Thanks Akil! I have not seen it. I will definitely take a look at it.

Charles P. Linscott

First, this is making me really hungry! Being from the South, but living in Ohio, I really miss a lot of this food. Sigh.

More importantly, though, I think these critiques of representation are so valuable. I was reading about the musical subgenre known as “country rap,” and the distinctions between it and Southern hip hop are presented as entirely representational. No surprise there, but marking a form based on what it “talks about” is obviously problematic. Thanks for this post, and the discussion.

Regina N. Bradley

I agree about the constant blend and overlap of genres and cultural tastes that make up contemporary southern black culture.

I always chuckle when folks forget Erykah Badu is a southern girl. I love how she interweaves numerous touchstones of [her] black consciousness into an eclectic and messy understanding of black identity.

The Dungeon Family as a whole is criminally slept on. “Watch for the Hook” goes so hard in terms of visual and aural southernness. It makes you wonder if the New South for younger generations of southerners started with Organized Noize. I’m leaning towards yes (but I’m totally and unequivocally biased lol).

Regina N. Bradley

Thanks for these thoughts. Im grappling with the notion of southern pride and how it takes root similarly (differently) in the black community than for southern white folks. Touchstones of southern white pride - i.e. the Confederate flag - do not necessarily stem the same type of pride for southern black folks. I remember when I was a girl I hammered out a few notes of “Dixie” on our piano and my Grandfather had a fit.

I love the nod to food studies you’ve done here. It’s quite brilliant and you should consider expanding it for a larger piece.

Outkasted Conversations
Akil Houston

Most certainly. Southern hip hop or hip hop period for that matter has been at its creative best when it engages in those counter narratives and flips expectations even for those hard core hip hop heads. I am very interested in the development of your larger project as the current work you’ve been doing on hip hop is critical. The “Outkasted conversations” really challenges the disposable mentality some consumers have about rap cultural production.

Lauren Cramer

Thanks for the comment. I think by focusing on the sensory experience of the South, Southern hip-hop’s visual culture is ahead of the game. It’s encouraging us to think about aesthetics and the organization of the senses in a way that rarely happens in hip-hop discourse. To me, thinking about form in hip-hop is so important for a genre that is so often required to “represent” for certain communities. Instead of praising or condemning hip-hop when it doesn’t represent “well,” it seems wise to consider what the genre wants to tell us about representation in a broader sense.

Killer Mike appears with his arms crossed on the cover of his 2012 album.
Akil Houston

This video has a feel of a hip hop Persepolis. Not simply because of the use of animation but parallels with coming of age during a revolution. In this instance the post-industrial reality of Reganomics. I remember Mike from his open mic days and his reputation of lyrically ‘Killin’ other emcees. It is not just his lyrical depth but the weight of his critique and passion that makes him, to quote Regina, ‘a problem’. Richard Wright could have easily been talking about Killer Mike, the self described ‘Pan Africanist gangsta rapper’ when he says our history is far stranger than you suspect and we are not what we seem. Chip there is an interesting piece on urban daily about Killer Mike and his op-ed in Billboard regarding Ferguson.

Akil Houston

As much as music is an auditory experience there is something tangible about the taste of southern hip hop. Lauren, I appreciate your notion of what the South has to say and how it is said. Though we cannot actually taste the music it does engage our ‘southern schema’ as I could relate to those sticky Georgia afternoons and the spaces and places we may pass through. The video while maintaining staples of rap videos (hometown, cars, panning shots, etc.) there is a distinctness in the imagery of the south.

Killer Mike appears with his arms crossed on the cover of his 2012 album.
Charles P. Linscott

Exactly. The “reconstruction” is, of course, an ongoing project, but I think that hip hop is uniquely qualified to engage such a project, especially with its populist tendencies overall. This is not to say that other musical genres cannot do this, but, I think hop hop’s simultaneously local and global reach is special. Certainly, hip-hop does not have to be political, and the entertainment value is quite important, yet when the two aspects are combined, something magical can happen. This is where hip-hop has the power to be, as Chuck D famously said, the “CNN of the streets.” (Disclaimer: CNN was much more relevant when he said that, although Killer Mike has been blowing them up lately. I think I hyperlinked one of Mike’s recent CNN appearances in my post.)