On the Beat: Understanding Portrayals of Law Enforcement Officers in Hip-hop Lyrics Since 2009



Keesee, Francesca A

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This thesis is concerned with the ongoing violent conflict between law enforcement officers and Black citizens in the United States. The research explores lyrical messages about law enforcement officers found in mainstream hip-hop music from the years 2009-2016 in order to understand how the conflict is discussed in the contemporary Black American community. The author consulted Billboard music charts to select five songs from each year (forty songs total), and she analyzed each song to assess how the artists position police officers and themselves in the narratives of the songs. The songs were subsequently grouped in various ways to interpret trends in the lyrical messages. This thesis uses hip-hop music as a tool to understand one perspective of the conflict between police and Black Americans, and it has produced many viable options for future research on the topic.



Police, African Americans, Hip-hop, Law enforcement, Oscar Grant, Music