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Hipsters in the hood: Authenticating indexicalities in young men's hip-hop talk

  • Pia Pichler (a1) and Nathanael Williams (a2)

In this article we explore the relationship between authentication and identification in the spontaneous hip-hop talk of four young London men from multi-ethnic working-class backgrounds. Whereas sociolinguistic studies of authentication and/or hip hop have frequently focused on the linguistic style of hip hoppers, this article explores hip-hop talk with a specific interest in ‘cultural concepts’ (Silverstein 2004). This focus allows us to discuss how the young men authenticate themselves in relation to a range of other identity performances they discuss, including the ‘white posh girl's’ appropriation of ‘world star’ hip-hop culture or the local South London gang's display of violent gangsta personas. These cultural concepts not only index various aspects of hip-hop culture but also need to be understood in relation to various aspects of larger-scale discourses, practices, and structures. (Hip hop, authentication, indexicalities, cultural concepts)*

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Alastair Pennycook (2007). Language, localisation, and the real: Hip hop and the global spread of authenticity. Journal of Language, Identity and Education 6(2):101–15.

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Petra Scott Shenk (2007). ‘I'm Mexican, remember?’ Constructing ethnic identities via authenticating discourse. Journal of Sociolinguistics 11(2):194220.

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Michael Silverstein (2004). Cultural concepts and the language-culture nexus. Current Anthropology 45(5):621–52.

Mich Nyawalo (2013). From ‘badman’ to ‘gangsta’: Double consciousness and authenticity, from African-American folklore to hip hop. Popular Music and Society 36(4):460–75.

Nathalie Weidhase (2015). ‘Beyoncé feminism’ and the contestation of the black feminist body. Celebrity Studies 6(1): 2831.

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Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
  • EISSN: 1469-8013
  • URL: /core/journals/language-in-society
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