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Latanya Olatunji, better known as akua naru, is a hip hop poet-emcee and scholar. She obtained a BA from Rutgers University in New Jersey, and a Masters of Science in Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has lived in a number of places from New York, New Haven, Connecticut, Norfolk, Virginia, Camden, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pa, Chengdu, China, and now Cologne, Germany. Naru is currently teaching at both the University of Cologne, and the Uni in Wuppertal. She is recording an album which should be released this coming summer, and with the direction of Prof. Dr. Roy Sommer is writing her dissertation. She lives and breathes hip-hop.
Titel und Abstract des Dissertationsprojektes
Me, Myself, and the hyper “I”: Forms and Functions of First Person Narration in Hip Hop
(Betreuer: Prof. Dr. Roy Sommer, Wuppertal)
For the past 30 years, the world has increasingly become familiarized with Hip Hop music. Its origins debated, the child of African oral tradition ancestors, blues-inspired poetic breaks-sung by the likes of Bessie Smith, the post civil-rights era radical spoken word performances of Gil Scott Heron and the Last Poets, Hip Hop, has grown from its original South Bronx provinces to amass global and commercial success.
Research from scholars such as Tricia Rose, Michael Eric Dyson and Nelson George has focused on Hip Hop from social, political, racial, and cultural perspectives, appropriating the genre academic and intellectual space. The dissertation explores the spectrum of ways in which the personal pronoun I has been and is being written in Hip Hop/Rap narratives. Focusing on recorded rap narratives from the late 70’s until the present day, this research adopts a narratological approach in order to dissect some of the most popular/ mainstream and unpopular /underground narratives produced. The analyses of a large corpus of rap lyrics will reveal how the larger social positioning of narrators inform ideas of their perceptions of self-existence through “hyper-existence”, self-reference, and identity construction in autobiographical and auto-fictional texts. More, this dissertation will examine Hip Hop’s commodification and cooptation by mainstream and corporate interests as they inform literary and narrative trends in which the “I “is written, bought into, and sold. This dissertation further examines how the narrator’s narrative and literary expressions serve as templates and labels through which listeners negotiate and incorporate the construction of their identities.
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