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Hip-hop as urban and regional research: encountering an insiders ethnography of city life

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Publication details

JournalInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research
DateE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jun 2012
DatePublished (current) - Mar 2014
Issue number2
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)677-685
Early online date20/06/12
Original languageEnglish


This debate article suggests that hip-hop music may reasonably be thought of as a form of urban and regional research. It draws upon the recently published book of the hip-hop artists 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 piece uses Jay-Z’s text to illustrate the type of insights and ideas that we might obtain from hip-hop, it provides some specific examples of these insights and concludes with some reflections upon this alternative insider account of city life and how it might provide us with opportunities for expanding our repertoire.

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