Feminine accent, masculine rapper
Constructing authenticity in Chinese hip hop
Keywords: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.
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