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A Female Houdini: Popular Culture in Margaret Atwood's Lady by John Thieme

By John Thieme

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While Tribe’s Q-Tip and Phife accept the challenge on ‘‘Phony Rappers,’’ Lil Wayne doesn’t want to waste his time. ’’ Wayne argues that, with his status in hip hop, he doesn’t need to battle to prove himself anymore, and reminds his listeners that just because he’s from the South and doesn’t brag about his rhyme flow doesn’t mean he isn’t at the top of the rap game. The ‘‘On the Block #1’’ skit leads into and serves an introduction to the next track, ‘‘Best Rapper Alive,’’ where Wayne illustrates his skills.

In ‘‘Represent the Real Hip Hop,’’ KRS lists creativity, as well as skill in composing and performing, as markers of rap quality. To him, platinum sales prove nothing but marketability; the MC’s skills must be proven in live performance. Jay-Z, on the other hand, claims that his marketability is an extension of his creativity as he describes building his label, Roc-AFella, into a rap dynasty using the street knowledge he developed growing up in New York City’s Marcy housing projects. KRS-ONE focuses on the artistic innovation he considers crucial to hip hop, while Jay-Z includes his skill in selling music as part of his innovation as an artist and CEO.

Edward G. 15 McLeod maps six semantic dimensions of claims to realness as they respond to the threat of assimilation. Through an extensive study of lyrics, hip hop media, and a series of interviews with artists, McLeod developed an outline of the different terms through which realness is argued. The ‘‘deeply intertwined’’ dimensions he defines are: social-psychological (staying true to yourself vs. following trends), racial, political-economic, gender-sexual, social locational, 24 IS HIP HOP DEAD?

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