The Ignorant Hip-Hop Artist? Political Rap Encounters Jacques Rancière
This paper stages an unexpected encounter between the theoretical thoughts of Jacques Rancière and the soundscape of the American political rapper Paris. It examines the artist’s unapologetically militant rap music against the backdrop of Rancière’s labyrinthine thinking on politics and aesthetics which scrutinizes various traditions of politicized artistic expressions and the causal logic that undergirds them. To articulate this wider resonance for Rancière’s critical theory, three major themes that have permeated his extensive work – emancipatory pedagogy, spectatorship and political art – are joined and made trenchant to probe the revolutionary fervour behind Paris’s bellicose rap-star image and lyrics in his emblematic album Sonic Jihad. This analysis, covering multiple media texts, demonstrates how the artist instrumentalizes music for politics through the tropes of truthtelling and enlightenment. Such a strategy, seen through Rancière’s sceptical lens, inadvertently diminishes the listeners and accentuates their presumed conditions of ignorance and inequality. But while Rancière’s overall critique of political art’s efficacy can pinpoint the blind spot in Paris’s cultural resistance, the rapper’s sonic protests can, in return, highlight the deviation of Rancière’s approach to art-inspired mobilization and suggest the limits of the theorist’s reflections on artistic oppositional practices.
Citation : Chao, J. (2016) The Ignorant Hip-Hop Artist? Political Rap Encounters Jacques Rancière. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 30 (6), pp. 754-763
Research Group : Media Discourse Group
Research Institute : Media Discourse Centre (MDC)
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- Leicester Media School