Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Suzaanne B. Kurth

Committee Members

Robert Emmet Jones; Hoan Bui; Debora Baldwin


Historically, social scientists have not only marginalized rap music as a viable unit of scholarly analysis, but failed at attempts to understand the thoughts and actions of rap music consumers. This study analyzes the connection between rap music’s (and the artists’) authenticity and how those perceptions of authenticity affect music consumers’ decision making process, thus providing a possible explanation as to why music fans purchase rap music. The goal of this research was to see if the reasons rap music fans provide explaining the rationale behind their purchases match the images and perceptions presumably held by the general public about rap music.

A snowball sample was used to survey a total of 30 rap music “experts.” The findings from this study indicate the concept of authenticity is very important in validating not only rap music, but rap artist, rap music fans, and hip hop culture as a whole. The findings from this study provide empirical evidence supporting the importance of authenticity as a construct and the use of rap music as a unit of scholarly research analysis. By justifying the importance of authenticity to rap music and hip hop culture, this research proposes that authenticity may well be used as a means to maintain existing relationships with a fan-base and as a marketing tool used by record companies to attract new fans and generate album sales.

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