ABSTRACT

This article explores performances of Jewish identity in hip-hop music, specifically in relation to the racial dynamics underpinning modes of a rapper’s authentic representation. Hip-hop music, first developed within and still largely defined as a product of African-American culture, has included Jews in various, complicated ways. After surveying antisemitic representations of Jews, the article examines the methods in which white and black Jewish rappers have articulated their own sense of Jewishness in lyrics and music videos. As white rappers, Jews often either depict themselves seriously by aligning with African-Americans, or mark their difference through self-deprecating caricatures for ironic humor. A more recent subgenre of rappers, comprised of African-Americans who have converted to Judaism, present Jewish identity within a religious sphere misleadingly defined as white. Each of these representations underscores the role race plays in designating the self-identification of Jewish rappers.

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