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Hip-Hop as Urban and Regional Research: Encountering an Insider's Ethnography of City Life

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  • David Beer

Abstract

type="main" xml:lang="en"> This essay suggests that hip-hop music may reasonably be thought of as a form of urban and regional research. The essay draws upon a recently published book by hip-hop artist Jay-Z, which provides biographical information alongside translations of the lyrical content of his works, to show that hip-hop is full of insider ethnographic insights into urban life. This, it is argued, can be thought of as an answer to Daryl Martin's call for a more ‘poetic urbanism’, an urbanism that captures the material, sensory and emotional aspects of the city. The essay uses Jay-Z's text to illustrate the type of insights and ideas that we might obtain from hip-hop, giving some specific examples of these insights and concluding with some reflections upon this alternative insider account of city life — and how it might provide us with opportunities for expanding our repertoire.

Suggested Citation

  • David Beer, 2014. "Hip-Hop as Urban and Regional Research: Encountering an Insider's Ethnography of City Life," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(2), pages 677-685, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ijurrs:v:38:y:2014:i:2:p:677-685
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1468-2427.2012.01151.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Lewis & Dennis Rodgers & Michael Woolcock, 2008. "The Fiction of Development: Literary Representation as a Source of Authoritative Knowledge," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(2), pages 198-216.
    2. Simon Parker, 2010. "Introduction: welcome to the urban desert of the real, Part II," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(6), pages 706-708, December.
    3. Simon Parker, 2010. "Introduction: Welcome to the urban desert of the real," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(5), pages 491-496, October.
    4. Rowland Atkinson & David Beer, 2010. "The ivorine tower in the city: Engaging urban studies after The Wire," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(5), pages 529-544, October.
    5. Daryl Martin, 2010. "A poetic urbanism: Recreating places, remade to measure, but from the inside out," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(5), pages 586-591, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rivke Jaffe, 2014. "Hip-hop and Urban Studies," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(2), pages 695-699, March.
    2. Stefano Bloch, 2016. "Why do Graffiti Writers Write on Murals? The Birth, Life, and Slow Death of Freeway Murals in Los Angeles," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(2), pages 451-471, March.
    3. Simon Black, 2014. "‘Street Music’, Urban Ethnography and Ghettoized Communities," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(2), pages 700-705, March.

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