February 19, 2015

Jonathan Solis

Major and Classification

Communication

Faculty Mentor

  • Kristan Venegas, Ph.D

Department

  • Education

McNair Project

Ballin’: Representation of Reproductive and Resistant Urban Ethnic Male Identities in Hip-Hop Discourse

Because a preposterous number of urban students continue under-achieving academically, some educators have turned to an alternate pedagogy that has proven to resonate with inner-city youth: hip-hop music. Research on the teaching potential of music videos, specifically, has shown that videos help students retain more information. Thus, the purpose of this study is to analyze the lyrical and visual messages that popular hip-hop music videos send to viewers, particularly African-American and Latino urban males. Data collection included the viewing and listing of hip-hop videos on three high-profiles, music channels with an analysis of the five most prominent music videos among all three channels. The research focused on two questions: (1) What messages do these videos communicate to urban males and (2) how do these messages affect their agency? Through my research, I found that today’s biggest hip-hop music videos send messages of power and dominance through money, which is categorized by a profound term in the hip-hop vernacular: “ballin’.” All of the top five videos – ranging from videos with an actual premise to those consisting only of absurd, performance scenes – contain the prevalent characteristics of the “ballin'” lifestyle: the best clothes & shoes, the best jewels, the best cars, and the best women (in terms of physique). When urban viewers retain these messages, they become young consumers focused on attaining over-priced items by any means as soon as possible; unfortunately, these means most often exclude education.