Rap music and its political connections: An annotated bibliography

Robert M. Cleary (Staff member of the technical services division of Princeton University Libraries and a candidate for the M.L.S. degree at Rutgers University)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Publication date: 1 February 1993


Rap music subordinates music to language. It is this emphasis on language that can make rap a vehicle for many ideas, if that is the rapper's intention. Playthell Benjamin, former academic and freelance writer for such magazines as the Village Voice and Emerge, believes that rappers can be divided into distinct groups, based on the message or non‐message conveyed. He groups rappers as “Narcissists, didactics, party‐time rappers, or gangsters” based on the content of their rapping. Any rapper who falls into one of these groups can have political significance for blacks, whites, women, liberals, conservatives, Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Narcissists frequently refer to women as mere sex objects, the worst example being the group 2 Live Crew, and less offensive examples being L.L. Cool J. and Big Daddy Kane. Didactics are the chief proponents of Afrocentric thinking and revisionist history. Representatives of this style would be Public Enemy, KRS‐One, and X‐Clan. Party‐time rappers, such as Heavy D and the Boyz or Biz Markie, are rarely serious, but sexism and homophobia can be elements in their raps. Gangster rappers N.W.A., Ice‐T, and Ice Cube are currently receiving a lot of attention from the press, and violent behavior characterizes their lyrics.


Cleary, R.M. (1993), "Rap music and its political connections: An annotated bibliography", Reference Services Review, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 77-90. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb049186

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Copyright © 1993, MCB UP Limited

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