ArticlesVolume 7, Issue 2 (2017)

Rap Exegesis: Interpreting the Rapper in an Internet Society

Andrew Jensen Kerr

Lecturer of Legal English, Georgetown University Law Center
Citation:7 COLUM. J. RACE L. 341

Abstract

The law and literature movement has had limited influence on the work of lawyers and judges.  But a rap lyric’s dual quality as aesthetic and “truth” document makes it uniquely amenable to literary interpretation.  The competing problems:  lyrics are meant to be heard and not read, and the ambition of the contemporary rapper is no longer to be didactic or suggest authenticity.  The #rapgame has changed.  This Article argues that the Internet rapper is the paradigm of creative identity.  The guiding questions for this Article are how the law should respond to the individual who lives life as art, and if the social knowledge project will lead to the crowdsourcing of how we interpret both rappers and legal texts.