Feminine accent, masculine rapper

Constructing authenticity in Chinese hip hop


  • Tianxiao Wang Xiamen University




hip-hop, authenticity, gender, iconicity, Mandarin Chinese


The localisation of hip hop authenticity in non-African American communities across the globe is an enduringly controversial topic. This study provides evidence of hip hop authenticity construction in the Chinese context through an analysis of seemingly contradictory social meanings of fronted palatals in the Beijing dialect. While these sounds are considered to convey ‘soft’ femininity (i.e. so-called ‘feminine accent’), Beijing-based male rap artists utilise their acoustic character to evoke the iconic record scratch sound of rap music, and rely on the sounds’ sensory qualities – such as sharpness and harshness – to construct masculine and aggressive hip hop personas. By forging iconic links across multiple modalities, these rappers make the stylistic use of a variable traditionally associated with femininity a key element of their performance register, and reinforce the link between rap music and the performance of masculinity within the Chinese hip hop community.

Author Biography

Tianxiao Wang, Xiamen University

Dr Tianxiao Wang is an assistant professor in the Department of Chinese Language at Xiamen University. She is interested in language variation and change, sociophonetics and language and identity. Her recent work includes projects involving hip hop authenticity among Chinese rappers and linguistic resources engaging in stylistic and identity work.


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How to Cite

Wang, T. (2023). Feminine accent, masculine rapper: Constructing authenticity in Chinese hip hop. Gender and Language, 16(4), 335–358. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.22385