Behind Beats and Rhymes: Working Class from a Hampton Roads Hip Hop Homeplace

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The film documentary titled Hip Hop: beyond beats and rhymes captures ongoing conversations among scholars, cultural critics, and hip hop insiders about the state of African Americans by interrogating distinct expressive forms associated with hip hop culture. Durham draws from two scenes to describe her memories as the researched underclass and as the graduate researcher returning to her childhood public housing community to explore the shifting discursive terrain of hip hop as a struggle over meaning waged through class performances. Class is articulated through taste values and notions of respectability. Durham connects the hip hop mantra emphasizing lived, embodied culture with bell hooks' description of a homeplace to recount her researcher/ed self during the Virginia Beach Greekfest race riots and her visit home where she talks about hip hop feminism with a group of African American women from the Norfolk public housing community. By recalling autoethnographic encounters of hip hop at home, Durham calls attention to the politics of class that echoes behind beats and rhymes.

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Policy Futures in Education, v. 7, issue 2, p. 217-229