Hip-Hop Language in Sociolinguistics and Beyond



Hip-hop language (HHL) is a hot topic in academia. Sociolinguists have been interested in its relationship to African American English as well as innovations in terms of its grammar and vocabulary. A couple of questions connect research from a number of related fields on HHL and culture: What does it mean to be authentic in hip-hop culture in terms of language and other aspects of identity such as one's race, class, and connection to young urban Black Americans? How do participants perform their hip-hop identity in terms of language? And how do local hip-hop scenes use language to express local identities? This article explores research on these topics as it pertains to HHL, also taking into account a range of disciplines from cultural studies and philosophy to musicology, identifying new trends and possible areas for collaboration, and highlighting areas that are in need of greater attention. The article also touches on frameworks for analyzing language use in general in such areas as ‘crossing’ and ‘styling’.