From “The Blacker the Berry” and “Fight the Power” to “Y’all Act Like You Never Seen a White Person” Before: Double Consciousness in Race through Hip-Hop and Rap Music
“It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks in on amused contempt and pity...One ever feels his twoness,-an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warrings ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder” -W. E. B. Dubois. This presentation explores the world revolving around hip-hop and rap music and the politics that drive them, through the lens of W. E. B. Dubois’ concept of double consciousness. Using the African American rappers Public Enemy, Tupac, and Kendrick Lamar, we will be evaluating their understanding of this “twoness” from the late 80’s to today. The additional use of Eminem, a Caucasian rapper, is how we will prove that double consciousness has evolved to not only take a prominent role in African American rap, but also in rap of different racial groups as well. Along with this, we will take a deeper look into how violence, politics, and poverty have affected the music of each rapper and influenced their addition to the progression of the hiphop movement. As each rapper handles race differently, they have the ability to take a unique role and power position in the hip-hop culture. In conclusion, this presentation is important because it will examine how racism affects individual’s image of themselves and how they go forth with expressing that.