Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Jan Grigsby




music, genre, hip hop, rap, youth culture, social issues


Music is a primary source of entertainment for American adolescents. Hip hop culture and rap music, in particular, have become the dominant genre of music among American youth. Hip hop rose primarily from the disadvantaged African American neighborhoods of New York City. Perhaps not surprisingly, though, it is White, middle class, suburban adolescents who drive the rap music industry with their disposable income and desire to resist the cultural norms of their parents’ generation. While sophisticated analyses of hip hop itself are appearing, the connection to white youth has not been well-studied. This project begins to fill this void, specifically exploring how contemporary rap music affects White middle-class American adolescents. Interviews and surveys were conducted with a sample of students from a small selective northeastern liberal arts college. These interviews and surveys focused on the presence of rap music and hip hop culture in their daily lives, assessing the ways music has penetrated youth culture and influenced their perspectives on race, gender, class-consciousness, and other pressing social issues that affect America’s youth.