1st Edition

Roc the Mic Right The Language of Hip Hop Culture

By H. Samy Alim Copyright 2007
    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    Complementing a burgeoning area of interest and academic study, Roc the Mic Right explores the central role of language within the Hip Hop Nation (HHN). With its status convincingly argued as the best means by which to read Hip Hop culture, H. Samy Alim then focuses on discursive practices, such as narrative sequencing and ciphers, or lyrical circles of rhymers. Often a marginalized phenomenon, the complexity and creativity of Hip Hop lyrical production is emphasised, whilst Alim works towards the creation of a schema by which to understand its aesthetic.

    Using his own ethnographic research, Alim shows how Hip Hop language could be used in an educational context and presents a new approach to the study of the language and culture of the Hip Hop Nation: 'Hiphopography'. The final section of the book, which includes real conversational narratives from Hip Hop artists such as The Wu-Tang Clan and Chuck D, focuses on direct engagement with the language.

    A highly accessible and lively work on the most studied and read about language variety in the United States, this book will appeal not only to language and linguistics researchers and students, but holds a genuine appeal to anyone interested in Hip Hop or Black African Language.

    Shout outs 1 “The streetz iz a mutha”: The street and the formation of a Hip Hop Linguistics (HHLx) 2 Verbal Mujahidin in the Transglobal Hip Hop Umma: Islam, discursive struggle, and the weapons of mass culture 3 “Talkin Black in this White Man’s World”: Linguistic supremacy, linguistic equanimity, and the politics of language 4 “Bring it to the cypher”: Hip Hop Nation Language 5 Spittin the Code of the Streets: The strategic construction of a street-conscious identity 6 “Every syllable of mine is an umbilical cord through time”: Toward an analytical schema of Hip Hop poetics 7 “I’m Pharoahe when I’m on stage; I’m Troy when I’m home in Queens”: An interview with Pharoahe Monch


    H. Samy Alim is a visiting scholar in UCLA's anthropology department and author of You Know My Steez (2004) and co-author of Street Conscious Rap (1999). His research interests include Black Language, global Hip Hop Culture, and the street language, culture, and music of the Muslim world.

    'This vivacious and edifying publication on hip hop language and linguistics has the energetic and dynamic elements of its subject matter.' Journal of Folklore Research

    'As intimidating as linguistic scholarship can be to the non-linguist-centered readers, Alim writes with such clarity that the technical aspects of linguistic study are relayed sensibly and not overshadowed by academic jargon or guild-centered writing.' Journal of Folklore Research

    'Overall, Roc the Mic Right succeeds in proving that Hip Hop Linguistics (HHLx) is a valuable field of study, teaching us not only about the art form itself, but also about life, culture, and language in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.  Furthermore, the passion that Alim and those he quotes have for hip-hop makes this a fun book, even for a lay audience.' - Nancy Effinger Wilson